Like the rest of the country, the Washington State Cougars are getting ready for perhaps the biggest day in college football outside the day of the National Championship Game. I am of course talking about National Signing Day on Feb. 5th.
The Cougars are having a solid pre-signing day period with what they have been after, but after a couple of decommits the numbers might not ever give the coaches proper credit for the work they’ve put in and the production they’ve been able to get. Then again, a couple of things break WSU’s direction in the final 10 days and the numbers might look really good.
Three players count against the 2014 class numbers as holdovers as well as another transfer who was a 4-star coming out of high school in 2013; Marcellus Pippins, Dylan Hanser, Markell Sanders and Sebastian LaRue. None of them are counted when grading out the class however.
We expect the Cougars to finish right around the top 50 in the overall team rankings when all is said and done, maybe as high as 45-47 in each major scouting service if one or two 4-star athletes give the Cougars a nice surprise on or before signing day. As of now the Cougars rank in the low-mid 50’s in each recruiting service.
Let’s take a look at some of the hopefuls and rumors as NSD approaches.
The Cougs have 25 committed prospects at this point, seven of which are already enrolled in Spring semester classes in Pullman. However as is always the case in college football recruiting, that’s far from the final story. We won’t go over the commits in this piece, but if you want a comprehensive look at them all in one place, you can check out the ACU Recruiting Notebook. In the notebook we’ve added all of WSU’s de-commitments to this point, as well as the early enrollees and some crucial notes for certain prospects. It will stay updated over the final 10 days of the 2014 signing period.
Rumors and Predictions
The last couple of weeks have been whirlwind-recruiting on the Palouse, I guess when is that not the case in the final month, right? At any rate, the Cougars have gotten interesting news all departments. If committed recruits are not on this list we expect they are a lock to end up in the WSU fax machines on Feb. 5. Let’s take a look at the wildcard issues the class is facing first.
- *** ATH/WR commit Ronald Monroe (6’3, 180) from Sugar Land, TX is playing QB in high school and he’s really good at it. He’s put up crazy HS numbers with over 3,300 yards, 42 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions while running for 997 yards and 16 more scores. Yep, just the kinda athlete Leach loves to take and make into an elite outside receiver. Not kidding either, Michael Crabtree was just this type of quarterback in high school. But the issue is that Monroe may actually end up wanting to be a college quarterback and he’s rated at 41 in the Scout database so there’s no doubt he can play the position. Taking a trip to BYU could prove intriguing for him, especially with what current QB Taysom Hill is doing in that offense. Monroe is a big-time wildcard at this point, even though he says that he’s only taking the trips because “I earned them”.
Prediction: Leach has a good track record when changing mobile QB’s to WR’s, so Monroe sticks it out and ends up a WSU receiver. BYU is a very intriguing thought though if he really wants to be a QB.
UPDATE: Monroe has decided to decommit from WSU and pursue a college qb position at Vandy, Utah State or San Jose State. It’s unclear whether he was a delayed enrollment candidate or not for the WSU coaching staff, which may have played a role in the decision. When Monroe originally committed to the Cougars he said that he couldn’t see anything changing his mind. Maybe the call for a qb at Vandy was too much to pass up?
- *** JC OT Miguel Machado (6’6, 285) may be out the gate after seeing an increased interest from some bigger schools. He would be a prime candidate to come in and start from day 1, and is still committed. But he is also taking trips and the doubts that he’ll be a Coug after those trips are well-founded. Michigan State and Washington seem to be a names that keeps popping up, even though they were in the running when he committed originally. He also took a recent trip to Purdue, so they’re probably in the running too.
Prediction: Machado could very well be the 3rd flip to Washington, but the draw of East Lansing and the Rose Bowl Champions is strong too. We think he’s gone by signing day and it really is too bad as he would strengthen this inexperienced line immediately.
UPDATE: Machado has recently put Michigan State as his #1 between them, WSU and Washington. Anybody’s guess as to who’s #2, but it doesn’t matter at this point. A Green and White flip looks like a sure bet. Not the worst thing for WSU as they are currently at 26 commits with him and still looking at about 4 or 5 others. But again, he probably would’ve come in and started, so it’s a bit of a blow.
- ** CB Patrick Porter (6’0, 170) committed to WSU sight-unseen just recently, but still opted to take a couple late trips anyway. He’s definitely a candidate to play big snaps in 2014, but will he be around to take them?
Prediction: Porter made an interesting decision to commit before taking 3 scheduled trips and admittedly was shocked by how at home he felt when he visited Pullman for the first time last weekend. Why he committed somewhere he wasn’t at all sure about is curious, but we think that and a shot at major playing time could be enough to keep him in the fold.
UPDATE: Porter took that trip to Minnesota, but he’s now cut out his trip to Miami. What that means for WSU? He’s 100% committed and will be signing with Washington State on Wednesday. This is a much bigger get than people will see. Porter is underrated and brings a physical presence to the CB position.
- **** LB Chandler Leniu is all but gone now, looking at Cal and Fresno State in his top two. Leniu was once the gem of the 2014 class but seems to have a burning desire to stay closer to home.
Prediction: GONE to Cal
UPDATE: Leniu has committed to Cal.
- **** DT Marcus Griffin (6’3, 295) has frustrated Cougar recruiting followers for several months now. He was committed, then he wasn’t but still had WSU in the top 3… then 5… then Washington and Cal swooped in, then Mississippi State, then Notre Dame, now the Huskies are off the table, then Arizona jumped on board… so what’s the final story? Griffin tripped to Cal in the past 2 weeks and there’s a lot of speculation that’s where he’s headed as well. He’s currently sweeping Tucson and he’s on tap for Mississippi State next week. Then he’s said he’s waiting til signing day to announce his final decision. It’s no secret he was excited to play with Leniu at one point though.
Prediction: Arizona is too full, Mississippi State is too far away and he won’t delay enrollment for Notre Dame. Therefore my head says he’s gone to play with Leniu at Cal. However my heart says he’ll realize that his family seeing him play is as important as he told us it was several months ago. Since Washington said “no thanks” to his wait-it-out initiative, WSU once again becomes the spot of choice for Griffin.
UPDATE: Griffin tweeted another update on Monday, remaining steadfast to keeping the Cougs in his top four. Other three are Arizona, Cal and Miss. St. in no particular order. He is hosting at least a coach from all three of those schools this week, but did not mention a WSU visit when talking about it over the weekend. In no way does that mean WSU is out of the running though, as “Coach Joe” Salave’a has been the most consistent visitor to Griffin’s home over the past several months and was in Bellevue early last week for a visit.
- Big *** WR’s Brayden Lenius (actually 6’6, 235 TE) and Barry Ware (6’3, 205) are on the Cougar’s radar. We all thought Ware, who decommitted from UCLA some time back, had committed to WSU over a week ago, via some twitter action amongst players and commits, but it hasn’t yet materialized into anything but an exaggerated rumor. Ware is currently tripping to Utah. Lenius seems like a bit of a longshot with visits to Miami and Minnesota left and Washington jumping in the picture late.
Prediction: Ware commits Crimson and Gray before signing day and Lenius goes to Miami as a more natural TE. Though not as tall and a bit thicker, Ware reminds me of former WSU receiver Mike Bush. Not great speed but very dependable when the ball is in the air. That would be a terrific grab for the Cougars.
UPDATE: Ware committed to WSU as predicted on Sunday evening after finalizing his visit in Fresno. Lenius is now likely out of the picture.
- *** DE’s Austin Maloata (6’3, 250), Patrick Choudja (6’4, 230), and ** Jalen Canty (6’8, 270) have been interesting late additions to the WSU attention list. Maloata was headed to USC until Sark took over, then they just kind of ignored him so he recently opened it up and said he was ready for anyone who wished to recruit him. WSU’s interest hasn’t necessarily been over-the-top with him but he’s on the radar. Choudja and Canty seem to have more interest in them at the moment, but Choudja is visiting Boise and Fresno while Canty is staring an Oregon offer in the face.
Prediction: Maloata is probably not coming on board and while he would be a nice addition, just hasn’t been placed as a priority. Meanwhile Choudja and Canty both visited recently and the Cougs should be able to snag a commitment from one of them. Hope is for Canty (can you imagine that size lining up at DE for the Cougs?), but the smart money’s on Choudja if looking at competing schools. At the very least we’ll know as of Monday about Canty’s decision.
UPDATE: Choudja is out of the mix for WSU as he named a top 3 of Fresno, Boise and Nevada.
UPDATE #2: Canty just committed to Washington State via Twitter. Smart money losses big time on this one, and I couldn’t be more happy about it. Maloata is still a wildcard.
UPDATE #3: Maloata has picked up an offer from Oregon, which he accepted immediately. The prediction of 1 of 3 was ultimately correct, and from my view, the Cougars got the best deal.
- **** OL/DE Kaleb McGary (6’8, 280) is the guy that absolutely every Coug wants on board right now. One of the most real and true classy individuals in this class. In fact if he were to come aboard this class becomes an instant success in all circles. But UW and Oregon State have had the edge as of late and unfortunately were the most recent trips. Pluses for Wazzu include the small college town atmosphere and a chance to get a shot on the defensive side of the ball. Again, can you imagine? Even better, McGary on one end and Canty on the other?
Prediction: Seattle’s too big for him and the smart money is McGary to OSU, but WSU is so close behind. I like our chances in a coin-flip but my official prediction is that the Beavs end up with him.
UPDATE: In a bit of a shocking development, McGary has eliminated OSU from the picture, naming a top 3 of Washington, Washington State and Wisconsin (no order). This is a very tough prediction now. WSU seems like the best fit based on his comments early in the recruiting process. UW has been a long-time favorite of McGary and his family growing up, but he’s mentioned that he’s not a “cement and bricks” type of guy. Wisconsin brings a big-time school away from home with an elite educational pull, but it’s too far away for his family to see him play regularly. Yesterday he hosted both UW coaching staffs and he has said he wants to make a decision before signing day to give the coaches that don’t get him time to regroup and fill that spot. We expect the decision in the next 24-72 hours so stay tuned.
UPDATE #2: McGary is still contemplating his college decision. The same 3 remain and he has cut off communication for the remainder of the process with the coaching staffs. WSU still looks strong when you put the whole picture together, but this is too close to call.
- *** S/WR Deion Singleton (6’1, 175) out of Pasco is a serious talent that WSU is looking at heavily and the Cougars will be bringing in for a visit next weekend. Unfortunately his transfer from Tallahassee has been pretty messy and the thought is that he is just not very motivated in the classroom to get the coursework done necessary to be eligible. If he can prove that he’s working hard though, the coaching staff would be foolish not to extend an offer in 2014. This kid had legitimate interest building from the likes of Alabama, Florida State, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and others when he was in Florida originally. If he can get his schoolwork in order, look out!
Prediction: If he has any hope of making grades, WSU should and will take a chance on Singleton, otherwise they know he’ll end up at a JC and find a bigger school when his recruitment blows up again (it would be a shame to see him end up at Oregon but that’s what would likely happen if he were to go to a JC on the West Coast). He is the type of talent that WSU rarely gets to be in this position for (leading), especially considering the way the transfer worked out in their favor from Tallahassee. He’s in the category with Sebastian LaRue as a kid the Cougs can’t afford to pass up. The other two Tallahassee products (Devard Darling and CJ Mizell) to come to WSU through incredibly fortunate circumstances for the Cougs had major talent and Singleton is on par.
- Finally, the fantastic (and underrated) *** MLB Xavier Ulutu (6’1, 240) became priority No. 1 as soon as Leniu stepped out the door. He’s currently finishing up his trip in Pullman. More on Ulutu HERE.
Prediction: Ulutu is Washington State’s to lose. We think he commits early this week to the Cougars and it’s a pretty big deal for this class if he does. He’s a 4-star talent and he would give the Cougars a huge boost in the rotation of the middle of the defense.
UPDATE: Ulutu is tripping to Fresno this weekend. Tough to say if he’s going to commit anytime from this afternoon when his trip is finished up til signing day, but either way we still think WSU has the inside edge and likely has been putting the press on to fill a huge position of need.
Stars determined by Scout rankings.