The Washington State Cougars have a big weekend on the gridiron set up, for more than just the fact that they’re trying to secure their first bowl opportunity since 2003.
CF.C is reporting that no less than four verbally committed prospects to other schools (three to Pac-12 schools) will be taking their official visits to WSU this weekend. A fifth, uncommitted prospect from the state of Alabama will be joining them. The position focus? Cornerback.
Two 4-star prospects should be in-route to Pullman, Washington verbal Rahshead Johnson (5’11, 175) from Long Beach, CA and Arizona verbal Naijiel Hale (5’11, 170) out of Bellflower, CA.
Johnson said the Huskies know he’s coming and are ok with his planned trip. In the past couple years it has been rumored that UW has squashed some of their verbal recruits’ ability to visit their Eastern rival, threatening to pull scholarships.
Hale had Washington State as one of his final five, before committing to Arizona back in early July. With his trip coming the week following Arizona’s loss to the Cougs at home, every Cougar recruiting fan will wonder if the WSU victory had any impact on Hale with this visit upcoming.
The only answer we have is that head-to-head means more to some recruits than to others when thinking about these things, but usually it’s probably not nearly as important as the final season result. A bowl game is still going to be the biggest boost to these recruiting wars because of the staying power, but it certainly didn’t hurt in the bid to secure Hale’s services. That goes for any other recruits who may be on the fence with WSU and Arizona in their top choices as well.
Two more 3-star prospects are set to visit as well. UCLA verbal Denzel Fisher (6’2, 170) from Compton, CA and San Jose State verbal Darren Gardenhire (6’1, 200), another prospect out of Long Beach, will be on the plane.
2-star prospect Patrick Porter (5’11, 169) out of Cottondale, AL rounds out the list. He is looking at WSU, Cincinatti and Miami (FL) at this point and would be yet another feather in the cap of the nation-wide recruiting efforts of Leach and company, specifically in the state of Alabama. 3-star DT Gerald Sterling from Aliceville, AL committed to Leach in the 2013 class.
All but one of these prep players are current true-CB prospects for WSU. Gardenhire is a bigger bodied safety prospect but could potentially swing as defensive coordinator Mike Breske likes taller CB’s and this kid is reminiscent of a collegiate Brandon Browner (going back to Browner’s days at Oregon State).
Gardenhire is also the most likely flip at this point in our estimation. However, CF.C’s report of Johnson leads us to believe he could be swayed somewhat if all goes well on this trip. He committed to UW way back in June of 2012, citing that Seattle just ‘felt like home’, so it’s been a long time. We’ll just have to see if a smaller campus vibe in Pullman excites him or turns him off.
Johnson and others in this group are setting up other visits as well.