This is the second part of SW WA Coug's report of the Night with Cougar Football at Little Creek Casino. It features some GREAT breakdowns of each recruit's recruiting video with Paul Wulff's commentary. Make sure you click after the "read more" link to read those. Enjoy! - Nuss
Rich Rasmussen, Recruiting Coordinator, spoke about recruiting efforts in general. It's important for us to concentrate our recruiting efforts in markets where recruits are going to be seen by their family and close friends. Hawaii, Utah, Montana, and Idaho are non-Pac-10 states where we will continue to recruit heavily. Look for us to garner more and more commits from those areas in the future. Texas and Colorado are non-Pac-10 states where we will do some spot recruiting because family and friends of those kids are not in the same markets we are televised in.
It is critical that we recruit top Washington kids because they are the lifeblood of our program. I can't remember the exact words Rich and Coach Wulff said about this point, but the gist of it is that local kids are more emotionally attached to the program. It makes sense.
Next year, there is a good crop of Washington kids and we have already offered rides to about nine of them with more to follow next week. Recruiting for 2010 NLI day is in full swing. This staff has a great relationship with all the coaches in the state. We should again expect to cultivate our fair share of great Washington kids. Coach Wulff and his staff aren't afraid to go after any recruit on their radar because he believes WSU offers a unique college experience that other schools just can't match. If we can get our foot in the door, and they will listen to what we have to say, we're in good shape.
I think it's already starting to happen that when it's known we are after a kid, other schools come flocking in too. Just comes with the territory of having a great staff.
This staff logs thousands and thousands of air miles a year, and lots of time away from their loved ones. When these guys and their families get together, there are at least 30 children present. That just gives you a bit of an idea of of the sacrifice they make to be successful in their efforts to bring the best possible recruits into the football program.
Coach Wulff stated that he believes he has the hardest working staff in all of college football. He's been working with many of these guys for years, and there is a chemistry among them that's hard to match. They're honest, hard working, stand-up people and recruiters. They don't take shortcuts. One gentleman in the audience commented, "Thanks for following the rules."
A few years ago, when he was beginning his fourth year as head coach at Eastern, Paul was offered an assistant's job at WSU that he declined. To successfully install his system at Eastern, he needed the recruits he brought in to mature. He decided to stay at Eastern and reap the benefits of his first three classes and during the fourth year, they began to win championships.
Now he's come to WSU with a chance to do that very same thing, and he's asking for a little patience while we go through that process. Freshmen are usually 18 and 19 years old. Compare that to a Utah or BYU in the MWC. Their kids usually go on two year missions, and by the time they make an impact in their respective programs, they could be as old as 23 and 24 years old. That's a heck of a difference, but a valid comparison. At USC and the other successful Pac-10 programs, you can't win with 18 and 19 year old kids that are competing against kids that are usually 21 and 22. We need to let our kids mature a bit, layer the classes, and by the time our kids get to that age group, they will be able to produce wins for us.
He pointed out that of the 23 kids brought into the program in this recruiting season, one being a walk-on, there are only two or maybe three academic situations that he has to deal with. These three kids were so outstanding in all other areas that he felt the risk was worth it.
He looks for kids that are from solid family backgrounds. I think he mentioned that 4 of them had 3.9 GPAs. Almost all of our recruits committed way ahead of NLI day. Every last one of them was offered a scholarship by that school on the other side of the mountains after their new coach was hired, and not one kid wavered. Each of them wanted to be a Coug and stayed a Coug. That is so indicative of the quality that's coming into the program. It says an awful lot about the commitment this class made to Wazzu.
Coach Wulff doesn't recruit most 5 star athletes, those kids you see on ESPNU that sit at a table with three baseball caps in front of them. You know the type of kids I'm talking about. Many of those kids care more about themselves than they do about the programs they will be playing for. He wants kids that are all about wanting to be Cougs.
Coach Wulff and his staff do not pay any attention to the recruiting services and the stars they assign to each player. They're too busy doing their own evaluations and they go after kids that fit our program, regardless of what anyone else has to say about them.
Now I am going make a comment or two on each of the recruits that stuck out to me. Each of the recruits had some of their highlights shown on the big screen with Coach Wulff making comments on each. Hopefully, some of it is original.
Sebastian Valenzuela, OL -- Ex-soccer player. Parents are from Argentina and don't speak English. Projected as a possible four-year starter at center after Kenny Alfred graduates. Huge upside, but Wulff said that consistently about most of the kids. Showed him getting after one kid and pancaking him. For a big kid, he really moves. I was wondering what we were going to do at the center position, and putting this kid there is a very wise decision. He is perfect for the position and I think he's going to be a great one. Athletically, when I compare him to the sixth year senior at the school on the other side of the hump, there is absolutely no comparison. He is that good, IMHO.
Jeff Tuel, QB -- Sky's the limit for this kid. He's going to be a great Coug. Great arm, great speed and his best trait of all, according to Coach Wulff, is his calm demeanor. He never gets rattled. Is going to be competing for playing time after a redshirt year. Fairly raw right now because he only played his senior year in high school, on a very average team, but made them a legitimate title contender. I personally think he could easily be the next great QB in a long line of them from our school.
Gino Simone, WR -- Probably going to play right away. Coach Wulff is going to try to rotate about six kids into the receiving corps. Kept talking about how mature this kid was and how he just kept making plays. He likes Gino's leadership qualities. If anybody can step up to that challenge, Gino is certainly capable of doing it.
Quayshawne Buckley, DL -- This kid just pushes people out of the way. I felt sorry for anybody that played opposite him in high school. He's going to probably have to play as a freshman too. One of the few Coach Wulff mentioned that will. He will do just fine as a freshman and in time, will be a great one.
Johnny Forzani, WR -- Very athletic receiver with great speed. He's going to play right away, too, and he's ready. He knows how to go after the ball. He's a huge upgrade for us at the position and adds quality depth that was so desperately needed. He and Simone will make an impact and just get better.
Jordan Pu'u Robinson, DL -- He's already added to his 256 listed weight. He's going to make a huge impact for the Cougs defensively up front after a redshirt season. I see him as the beginning of a Hawaiian pipeline to our program. We are just beginning to see the results of that connection with this kid. You are going to hear a lot about this kid in the future.
Casey Locker, DB -- He hates the Huskies! First comment out of Wulff's mouth about him. Great start, if you ask me. Very heady player, great instincts. He's one of those great athletes that may not have the great numbers but he knows the game and he wanted to be a Coug very badly. I think he has a great future. Look for him to be a major contributor on special team's right off the bat.
Asi Hosea, DB -- This kid loves to hit, he's like a heat-seeking missle. He will redshirt next season too, but even though he's undersized a bit, Coach Wulff said it's going to be hard to keep him off the field. He will be one of many that will make a huge impact on special teams when his career starts unfolding. His video gave me chills. Everyone he hits goes backwards!
Sekope Kaufusi, LB -- Looks like a bigger version of Steelers' Troy Polamalu. Will compete for OLB position early in his career. This kid is big and fast and loves to hit. Plays like his britches are on fire.
Brandon Rankin, DE -- He is such a great kid, Coach Wulff was willing to take a chance on him. Has NFL written all over him. That wasn't said about any of the other recruits. You could tell Coach Wulff really liked this kid and is in the process of getting him the support he needs to become eligible. He probably won't make an impact until 2010 but it will be significant when he does.
Jamal Atofau, S -- This kid can fly. He's great friends with Gino Simone, as most of you already know, and he can't wait to start his career in Pullman. Besides being a great kid and an absolutely solid football player, he's one of our best recruiters too.
Andre Barrington, LB -- Another speedster from our state that played multiple positions in high school. He's going to be a great LB. Very versatile athlete. Committed early in the process and never wavered.
Anthony Carpenter, S -- I can say the same about this kid as most of the other DB's or S's that were recruited. Can flat out run. I believe he was one of those that has an extra jet in his arsenal. Boom, hits the afterburners and he's gone. Amazing to watch that kind of speed. Our defense is going to be tough as nails in the near future because of kids like this.
Travis Long, DE -- Another kid that will probably have to play next year but he's ready to contribute. It will be hard to keep him out of the rotation at DE. Great athlete. Super leader with 3.9 GPA. Keep that Spokane pipeline open!
Nolan Washington, DB -- It was a joy to watch his video. Breakaway speed. Loves to hit and played QB very well too. Super kid. He's typical of the type of kid this staff recruits. They can play multiple positions, have room to grow, and can run.
Terell Thompson, LB -- Played RB in high school but projects as a LB in college. Big, strong, and very fast. WSU and other schools will typically take kids like this and successfully turn them into linebackers.
William Prescott, OL -- Needs a little work in the weight room but already over the 300 lb. mark. I think he's going to be a great one eventually. Certainly has the frame and agility the staff looks for at the OL position.
Arthur Burns, RB -- Punishing runner. It's hard to find his combination of size and speed, 5-10/210. He's going to be one of those kids that really benefits from a RS season because he didn't get to play that much until his last year in HS.
Justin Clayton, DT -- One of those kids that was discovered early in the process. Has a great frame with room to grow. Everyone that talks about him says something about his motor. He loves to play football and he wanted to be a Coug from the beginning.
Darren Markle, MLB -- Another early signee from Idaho. Stole him from BSU and a number of other schools. Talk about strong! Can squat over 600. Great athlete that can run and loves to hit people.
Chris Mastin, LB/DL -- Will benefit greatly from a RS season. Very smart, going to be a pharmacy major. He dominated in HS and it just sort of depends on how he develops physically that will determine what position he plays for WSU.
Carl Winston, RB -- I always like to save the best for last. Small in stature, big in impact. He does everything exceptionally well and has great instincts. He is really fun to watch run. I'm a big fan of kids like this. He's our offensive version of Asi Hosea.
David Gilbertson, QB -- Walk-on comes from a pedigreed family of football players and coaches. He really understands the game. Grandfather coached that team on the other side of the hump and many in his family have Cougar ties, including grandpa.
That's pretty much it from me, Mr. Wordy. You will find that this class has tons of speed, athleticism, and flexibility to cover any number of needs in the future. It just all depends on how each of these kids develops and how fast they develop.
Remember, we are at the beginning of a process. Given time, I think the results we are all looking for will be there.
One of the areas I think we need the most improvement immediately is on special teams. This class certainly has it's share of those type players.
One comment Coach Wulff made as a general statement: When he's on the sidelines, he gets tired of watching our offensive and defensive lines get pushed off the ball. He made these big sweeping gestures with his arm in describing it. With what we have coming back from last season including redshirts, plus a couple kids from this class, he hopes that is a thing of the past. Me too.
On my way out of the function, I had one last chance to talk to Alex Brink and I asked him, "Do you think we have to go through another season like we did last year? Please, can you give me some encouraging words?" I must've sounded like a beggar.
He replied, "No way that's ever going to happen again under Coach Wulff!" I believe him. I truly believe him.