As we all attempt to move on from a painful end to the basketball season, we look ahead to Paul Wulff's fourth season as head coach of the Washington State Cougar football team. Many members of Cougar Nation expressed displeasure with how things went on the field last year, but were optimistic with all the young talent on the roster. Instead of breaking down talent by position, or talking about how things can be improved from a schematic standpoint, I wanted to know why recruits actually want to commit to Wulff and the Cougars. So rather than play amateur psychologist and completely speculate, I went straight to the horse's mouth.
Four members of the 2011 recruiting class sat down with me and discussed who they are, what their plans were once they enrolled in classes, and what exactly went on during their recruitments.
In determining exactly who to interview, I tried to go with a broad scope of players. The four Cougars in question are David Davis, Tana Pritchard, Jordan Simone, and Spencer Waseem. All four come from different backgrounds, have different paths to WSU, and came to their decisions in their own, unique way. I must let you know up front that Spencer Waseem's answer to one question in particular is quite possibly the greatest answer in the history of questions.
After the jump, we'll get into the Q&A.
What was the recruiting process like for you?
Davis: It was stressful at times, but once I started really hearing from schools towards the end of my junior year, it got fun. I committed pretty early, and when I did that, I pretty much tuned everything out when it came to recruiting. The hardest part was telling schools I didn't want to go there.
Pritchard: The entire recruiting process was pretty stressful. It was extremely hard to know when a coach was telling you the truth, or just something that you wanted to hear. With WSU, the recruiting process was fast and easy and very exciting because I always wanted to be a Coug.
Simone: The recruiting process a very fun and stressful time. Sometimes I loved it and sometimes I just wanted to scream. It is very nice to be recognized and be called by college coaches.
Waseem: The recruiting process was fun. Going on a recruiting visit to WSU was fun as I got to spend time with coaches. I was also impressed with the environment. Players were cool as well.
How often did Coach Wulff check in on you?
Davis: Coach Wulff always stayed in contact and when he came for the in house visit that meant a lot to me.
Pritchard: Coach Wulff himself didn't check on me very often because he wasn't responsible for recruiting my school. The coaching staff (Coach Levenseller) was really good at contacting me as much as they were allowed to.
Simone: Coach Wulff never really checked in on me but Coach Ball and Coach Niekamp would always be calling me just to see what was up and talk about what I would be doing next year.
Waseem: Coach Wulff called like four times but my main contact was Coach Ball. All the coaches were cool. They can only call during certain times but when they could they would. I called Coach Ball and talked to him, he was really cool. I look forward to learning under him.
Were other schools contacting you constantly, or did they back off once you verbally committed to WSU?
Davis: Before I committed I was hearing from Arizona, Fresno State, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Army, but once I committed it pretty much stopped.
Pritchard: Other schools were contacting me but they all slowed down soon after my verbal commitment to WSU.
Simone: Yes I was being called by Eastern and UW.
Waseem: Actually no one backed off. Some even told me I was making a bad decision. I had at least 10 schools that said they would offer if I de-committed. A few SEC and ACC schools; however, I told them I would only de-commit if for some reason the coaches got fired.
What ultimately made you decide WSU was the right place for you?
Davis: Communications is what I want to major in and Washington St. has one of the best in the country. My goal was always to play Pac-10 football so I thought WSU would give me the best opportunity to do that.
Pritchard: Since WSU was always one of the top places I wanted to play for, it would have been hard for me to go elsewhere. There were probably two other schools that I was interested in, but I'm happy with my decision to wear crimson and gray.
Simone: I really believe I can eventually earn a scholarship and play in the Pac-10, so I wanted to go for that. But also I wanted to be with my brother. These two factors along with a great coaching staff really made my decision a lot easier.
Waseem: Coach Ball he was always honest to me. I had other coaches come into my house and promise me a starting position and all kinda stuff. Coach Ball promised me he would coach me up. Also, Coach Wulff came to my house and ate my dad's Gumbo then used my bathroom (#2) so we were family at that point. Lol
How did your family factor into your decision?
Davis: My family just wanted me to go where I was going to be happy.
Pritchard: My family is really important to me. Also, playing in the Pac 10 has always been a goal of mine. I wanted my family close, but I knew that they would support me no matter what I chose. We have a strong legacy of Cougs in my family...my dad, mom, sister, aunties and uncles have all attended WSU. My parents met while in college there. They are super excited for me!
Simone: Well since my brother is over there that obviously was a big factor. But besides my brother my parents wanted me to do what was best for me and I know deep down they wanted me to go to WSU haha.
Waseem: It did not matter, my dad played basketball in college and he told me I would not come home much anyway. Also, I want to bring WSU back to the top of the PAC 12.
Who would you consider your role model or biggest inspiration?
Davis: My parents they have always helped me with any problems I had and were always there for me when I needed them.
Pritchard: My dad David Pritchard and older brothers Tavita Pritchard and Jason Nikolao are definitely my role models. They are all the first ones I go to with advice or news and updates with everything in my life. Tavita made a huge impact on the football program at my high school and was a huge motivator for me to keep that going. Also my Uncle Jack Thompson has been very inspiring and very hard on me to do all I can to be the best I can be. I owe a ton of my athletic knowledge and skills to these four men. I wouldn't be where I am in life without having them as role models.
Simone: My biggest role model is my brother. He has really taught me everything about being a hard worker, leader, and winner. Ever since we would play basketball in the backyard I would just hate losing to him and I think that made me a stronger competitor because of it.
Waseem: My dad A.G. Waseem and my godfather Patrick Lusaka are my role models and biggest inspiration. They sacrifice for their family and try to do the right thing by people.
What hidden talent, besides football, do you possess?
Davis: Haha I can't think of anything off the top of my head.
Pritchard: I am currently a barista at Starbucks and am told I make a mean cup of coffee. Other than that, I am a pretty laid back person and just love life and appreciate everything all my family and friends have done for me to allow me to be where I am today.
Simone: I'm really good at billiards. I have had a pool table since I was in 4th grade. So I like to think I'm pretty good. I am the champ at the Simone house haha, even though my dad will give me a good game every now and then.
Waseem: Great with kids. Having little cousins and little brothers and sister has allowed me to be able to relate to kids and be a big kid myself.
Do you have any idea what you plan to major in?
Pritchard: I am graduating high school with my AA degree and am going to have the option of declaring my major as a freshmen athlete. Having said that, I have it narrowed down to a handful of degrees. I tell people that it's hard for an 18 year old kid to know what he wants to do for the rest of his life.
Simone: I'm not sure what I want to major in, most likely business, but I want to become a firefighter after I graduate.
Waseem: Education or Sports Management.
What about Pullman made you want to spend the next 4-5 years of your life there?
Davis: I really liked the small town atmosphere because you almost get a sense that this is your second home, I didn't feel that at any other schools.
Pritchard: I have never been a big town person. Give me a football and a place to throw it around and I can stay entertained. The town of Pullman is very unique and I look forward to living there. I love to eat and have already tried a couple places that I will definitely be going back to. Dupus Boomers was one of them. I am also excited for the golf course. I'm not much of a golfer but after seeing the course, I can't wait to learn.
Simone: Yeah I remember when my brother came back from his official two years ago and said "There was just something about it I loved, so I committed." I now know what he is talking about. It's almost like a spell takes your body over and makes you not want to leave haha. It's truly a great college town where everyone is just looking to be college kids and nothing else.
Waseem: On Saturday the spotlight is on the Cougs. So I plan to give them a show. I played for Apopka High School, a dynasty in Florida. I know that most of the people rooting for me are really rooting for me. Also, I love Coach Ball. I do not want to let him down and plan to go hard to make sure we come back.
I certainly hope EA Sports takes notice of Wulff's efforts in Florida. Next year's NCAA Football 2012 better have the following options when attempting to sign a recruit in Dynasty Mode:
- Promise starting position
- Guarantee National Title
- Drop deuce in recruit's bathroom after eating gumbo