COUG COMMIT: QB Connor Halliday

689910m_mediumIt's been a while since we've done one of these Coug Commit features, since that little run of five commitments in three weeks back in late September to early October. But with Ferris H.S. quarterback Connor Halliday taking the Saxons all the way to the Washington state 4A championship game -- which they would lose to powerhouse Skyline -- now seems like a great time to talk about Halliday, since he committed before we started writing these features (back on June 19, according to Scout.com).

Plus, we've now got some great video to pass along, courtesy of Sean Hawkins at WSU Football Blog. We'll get to that later.

First, the measurables. Halliday is 6-foot-5 but just 190 pounds. For reference, that makes him two inches taller than Jeff Tuel, but 17 pounds lighter. (And we thought Tuel needed to redshirt to put on some pounds ...) However, the rest of the package is absolutely as impressive as Tuel's, if not even more so.

Check out the video:


I watched the game live, so I can tell you the things I noticed immediately about Halliday that were confirmed over the course of the contest:

  1. Ferris would not have even sniffed the state championship without Halliday. Period.
  2. Halliday might have thrown about 20 more touchdowns than he did if he was throwing to Kasen Williams as Jake Heaps does.
  3. Heaps is pretty awesome, but Halliday's not far behind. While Heaps is clearly more polished, Halliday can make every throw Heaps makes, and in fact might have the stronger arm.
  4. Halliday's composure is incredible. Remember this scouting report? It was all on full display, as he often progressed through reads and kept his eyes downfield in the face of Skyline's pressure.

What does this mean for WSU? It means we're getting one heck of a quarterback prospect. You can make a strong case that Halliday's probably even more polished than Tuel was before he stepped foot on campus, and that's really saying something, considering Tuel was polished enough to seize the starting job as a true freshman this past year.

Beyond that, I love the fact that he's a guy who not only has tremendous skills, but also the mentality to put his team on his back and carry them to within a game of a championship. Halliday seems like a leader through and through -- the exact kind of guy you want under center. He's not just a toolsy guy who hasn't accomplished anything.

Of course, we can't look at a guy like this without our Cougar angst creeping in, wondering if someone is going to swoop in and take away our golden boy before he has a chance to sign on the dotted line. Fortunately, Halliday seems pretty set, according to this Jim Moore piece for Cougfan.com:

Like Heaps, Halliday was also recruited by Washington but not with the same fervor. ...

"I was pretty much an afterthought," Halliday said. "You should go where you’re wanted. ... WSU showed me a lot of love, and the U Dub disrespected me."

It's strange how it worked out. Halliday used to root for the Huskies because his mom’s a UW alum. "But now I’m a Cougar through and through," he said.

The fact that Washington State has had two down seasons in a row did not affect his decision. He realizes that the Cougars were down in numbers because of poor recruiting in the past.

"I don’t care if you have Urban Meyer as the head coach, you’re not gonna win games," Halliday said. "It’ll be pretty cool once we get that turned around. I want to be a part of that."

And Halliday doesn't lack for confidence that he's going to be a part of that, either. He wants to redshirt next year -- "It’s what I want to do," Halliday told Moore. "Skills-wise I could compete at the Pac-10 level, but I don’t know if my body could hold up" -- so that he's ready to be a great quarterback for the long haul.

I concur with Halliday's assessment of his skills, and will go even one step further -- Halliday will immediately be the second best quarterback at WSU the moment he steps on campus.

The best part, of course, is that now the Cougs appear to be as set up as they can be to have good play at the quarterback position for the next four to five years. That's huge, as many a rebuild project has been short circuited by incompetent quarterback play. (Looking back, how many games do you think we would have won if Alex Brink wasn't leading the offense his last couple of years? It's really important.) While you obviously can't anticipate injuries and other issues, the Cougs have put themselves in the best position they could possibly be in after just two full recruiting classes.

And that's really all you could ask for.

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