WSU Football Recruiting 2014: Defensive Backfield Starting to Reload but Still Behind Pac-12


Oct 12, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars cornerback Daquawn Brown (25) knocks the pass away from Washington State Cougars quarterback Connor Ennis (8) during the first half at Martin Stadium. The Beaver beat the cougars 52-24. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Cougars are starting to reload at corner with Darren Gardenhire’s commitment. WSU now has three verbal commitments from CB’s with JC standout Joe Turner (6’2, 190 from San Mateo, CA) and 70th ranked Kevin Griffin (6’1, 180 from De LaSalle, CA). Marcellus Pippens should also be coming on board in the Spring from last year’s recruiting class, as should Bellevue 2013 prospect Markell Sanders.

WSU is losing three corners and two safeties to graduation so that makes five replacing five on the incoming list, assuming everybody ends up signing. Daquawn Brown and Charleston White will be the favorites and Brown is a hands down starter at corner going into Spring camp, but who knows how that will play out?

With the spread offenses of the Pac-23 Conference, along with the Bear-Raid at California, three and four CB’s on the field at the same time is a necessity at times. Also, defensive coordinator and D-backs coach Mike Breske loves to rotate if he can afford to, in an effort to keep his players fresh throughout a ball game and to have them ready in case of injury.

The Cougars are still looking for an elite prospect at corner, but the current class is pretty solid. For some sort of general reference to how good we can kind of expect these kids to come in and be, Brown was a 3-star and ranked No. 64 in his class, Pippens was 3-star and 75 in the same class. Sanders was 143 and only a 2-star, but he was injured his senior season and never got a full evaluation.

This year’s class has Gardenhire at 93 at safety (although recruited at WSU as a corner), Turner as a 2-star JC prospect (generally underrated because of lack of media coverage) and Kevin Griffin at 69.

If any of them turns out to be close to Brown in talent, we’ll have ourselves a legitimate Pac-12 defensive backfield for years to come. However these guys are still not considered elite athletes and there is room for improvement.

Nov 7, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal cornerback Wayne Lyons (2) tackle Oregon Ducks wide receiver Josh Huff (1) during the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. The Stanford Cardinal defeated the Oregon Ducks 26-20. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

For folks that watch Pac-12 football outside of Wazzu, here are a couple rankings (in their class) for some stud CB’s throughout the conference. Osahan Irabor at ASU (#32), Ifo Ekpre-Olomu at Oregon (#18), Avery Patterson at Oregon (#49), Wayne Lyons at Stanford (#8 S), Alex Carter at Stanford (#9 S), Randall Goforth at UCLA (#25), Ishmael Adams at UCLA (#7), Shaq Thompson at Washington (#1 S) and Marcus Peters at Washington (#69).

As you can see Wazzu isn’t quite up to the standards of Pac-12 talent at the position. Nolan Washington was ranked at #58 and Damante Horton was ranked 82nd. Heck, Deone Bucannon was only ranked as the 102nd best safety in the class and Taliulu 101 in the class after, so it’s not an exact science.

The point is, the higher the kid is rated, the better chance he has at being a quality starter, even though you’ll find gems and duds at each end. For the Cougs, it’s all about becoming more competitive. It looks like they are well on the way to doing that in the defensive backfield, but there’s still a long ways to go.