October 8, 2011; Pasadena, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars wide receiver Kristoff Williams (18) runs the ball against the defense of UCLA Bruins cornerback Aaron Hester (21) during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Washington State is simply loaded at receiver. By my count 17 pass catchers will be on the 2013 roster, none of them seniors. Another 3 are committed at the inside position for 2014. That’s roughly 1/5 of the roster at the receiver position, so why on Earth does Mike Leach need more?
The Goal of 18-20 Scholarship Receivers
Of the 17 that will be on the roster this season, 3 will be walk-ons. One must assume that these kids have the potential to be BCS-level players if Leach invited them to walk-on, but they won’t all turn out as scholarship-earning kids, most likely. With a mostly four receiver offense, having 4 or 5-deep on scholarship at each position is right around what Leach is looking for. It may seem overkill, but injuries can become a factor and when the Cougs go to an empty set they need an extra spot for that as well.
Special Teams Specialists and Defensive Possibilities
Let’s face it, without a solid special teams unit, you aren’t going to win at the BCS level. Wide receivers and running backs (whom Leach likes to use for his inside wide receivers) make up some of the most important specialist positions (gunners/returners), ergo, having good athletes deep at the position should equal a better special teams unit. With Leon Brooks and Marcus Mason being the only true return men on the roster, the Cougars simply need more options. Brett Bartolone and Rickey Galvin can man the return spots too, but Bartolone isn’t explosive and Galvin has injury history, so they’re more valuable exclusively in the slot.
With the addition of Charleston White this season and so far Zaire Andre and Calvin Green in 2014, the Cougs have probably solved their return man quandary for the foreseeable future. In addition to that Andre has cornerback experience and could easily move to the other side of the ball if necessary, but I don’t see that happening. The Cougars have focused on shoring up the secondary by already moving the likes of Rahmel Dockery and Alex Jackson from offense to defense and figure to pull in at least a couple more corners this year.
A Big Outside Threat in Each Class
The inside position is probably all done, but the Cougs are still looking for at least 1, if not 2 outside threats in the class. If Leach could get another JC transfer and a high school prospect, he would probably be pretty happy. Sam Boyd is the JC prospect of choice right now, at 6’4″, 235 lbs and clocked at 4.35 in the 40. That is ridiculous, and Leach has an in there as well, having nabbed offensive lineman Jacob Seydel from the same college (Riverside CC) just a couple months ago.
As far as prep stars, there are several targets at 6’1″ or taller on the list. Most of those are highly sought talents, so getting 1 would be a nice cherry on top of an already nice group of inside guys coming in. It will be very interesting to see where this class goes at the receiver position from here on out, even if that means that there are no more commits. But we don’t expect that at all.