The Washington State Cougars are hot on the trail of two 4-star players in the West. After the Cal Golden Bears announced some coaching changes on the defensive side of the ball, the Cougars are in better shape to land both. As we know, the two would like to play together if the opportunity arises (and of course the opportunity is definitely there at Washington State).
Chandler Leniu is already verbally committed to play for Mike Leach in Pullman, but the last couple weeks have been trending towards indecision for the 12th ranked middle linebacker from Bellflower, CA.
Marcus Griffin, the Bellevue, WA standout defensive tackle (ranked 28th) has long been a WSU target and was “strongly” verbally committed for some time before opening it back up a couple months ago to enjoy the process a bit more.
Griffin has been insistent that the Cougars are still at or near the top of the list of current offers and there’s little reason to think otherwise, though it has been constantly presumed by WSU faithful that the Cougs are out of the picture. As far as we know, he is still in constant contact with Mike Leach, Joe Salave’a and the Cougar coaching staff and still loves the WSU campus and family vibe at WSU. We also know his dad wants him to attend WSU and his mom gave him these the other day:
But Cal and others have been calling, and baiting, hard.
The Bears have also been luring Leniu in and Griffin was even in on the Berkeley fun, tweeting Leniu from time to time with thoughts of playing together in Cali. Leniu had been changing his tone of “hard commit” to WSU over the past month, but recent reports and interviews at such places as the Simper Fidelis All-American All Star Game suggest that the prized backer is still a long shot to leave Wazzu’s 2014 class.
That point may have been solidified early on Wednesday, when Cal somewhat surprisingly announced changes to its’ defensive coaching staff. Here is the Cal press release:
"BERKELEY – Cal head football coach Sonny Dykes announced a restructuring of the Golden Bears’ defensive coaching staff on Wednesday. Defensive coordinator Andy Buh has been reassigned as a position coach, while defensive tackles coach Barry Sacks and defensive backs coach Randy Stewart will not return in 2014.“Defense is a critical part of the equation in winning championships,” Dykes said. “I owe it to our student-athletes to provide them with the best conditions for success, both on and off the field, and I am committed to hiring coaches who will develop our players to their fullest potential while being excellent teachers in all aspects of the game. I will look to hire a defensive coordinator with significant experience in that role who can lead our defensive unit to success in one of the most prolific offensive conferences in the country.”"
Sacks was instrumental in the recruitment of both Leniu and Griffin, and the firing seemed to strike a cord with the uncommitted Washington product:
The plus side for Cal in the case of Griffin is that they are trying to improve their coaching staff with this move and can sell that. In fact Griffin tweeted (before deciding to remove it) that he was still Cal’s No. 1 most wanted target “for anyone who’s wondering”. The down side for Cal is that it comes so late in the recruiting game. Building a bond with a new coach is difficult to do in just a couple weeks’ time and Griffin did not mention still being high on the Bears after the move, though he did say they are still “in my recruitment”.
Many have said and will continue to say that Griffin is being a stuck-up, needy, attention grabbing Bellevue kid. I say let him enjoy his recruitment. He’s a kid living out his life-long dream and enjoying the process. Twitter is one of the best things… and one of the worst things to ever happen to recruiting, but we need to be aware of the fact that WSU is very much still in the running, maybe more so now than at any other time after his decision to open it up.
We’re hoping that all the signs pointing to him ultimately REcommitting to Wazzu are more than just smoke and mirrors, but in the end he has to make the decision that he feels is best for him (@Marcus Griffin: hint, that’s the Cougs). Also, hopefully this news that Cal is making changes just solidifies Leniu’s commitment to play his college football in Pullman.
We won’t even get into the fact that UW and a few others may still be making an eleventh hour run at Griffin, although he does have a few officials to take if he so chooses. He’s already taken his OV to Pullman and as of now has one set to Cal on Jan. 17. Washington State, Washington, and Cal seem to be his top choices of reference, which is significant as we approach the late stages of the battle. But he’s also mentioned possible surprise moves towards Mississippi State, South Florida and Arizona.