Initially, the headline I chose for this post was "BREAKING: Cougs land giant pulled-pork sandwich". I thought better of it for a few reasons, though. First, I feel like this whole "CougFan uses 'beef' way too much" meme is dead, and my attempts at humor are going to fail. Second, and probably way more importantly, Fernando Villanueva is basically Andre the Giant (6'7, 285 lbs). What happens if I run into him at The Bookie or something? Do I really want to explain to Mrs. Kyle that I'm now broken from the hair down because I called some huge lineman a pulled-pork sandwich?
Nah. That's not how I want to go out, guys. I want to the same death we all want: death by fireworks.
This past weekend, four recruits took their official visits to Washington State to watch the Cougars take on UNLV. Villanueva was among these players, and was busy tweeting about how much he enjoyed his time there. I was pretty sure based on his and Austin Apodaca's tweets that he'd verbally commit sometime this week. On Sunday, according to CougFan.com, he made it official.
Wow. Just ... wow.
Watching his tape is tough because he's only playing offense for half of the snaps. Watching him on defense makes me think he'd be a pretty good pass rushing DT. Watching him on offense makes me think he can be a great offensive tackle.
The guys going up against him are just completely over-matched. Based purely on God given ability, Villanueva becomes our best recruit to date. Now, that's not to say his technique is where it needs to be, but for someone playing both sides of the ball, it's pretty impressive.
I feel like I talk about how "tall" guys get, but I'm going to continue to beat that drum. If you're trying to stop someone from getting by you, standing straight up is the wrong way to do it. He needs to get his butt down a little more and drive upwards, rather than towering over someone and pushing them down. When you attack from the top, you're susceptible to the bull rush and swim/rip moves because your center of gravity is too high. Villanueva is strong enough to push high school kids around without a problem, but he'll need to refine his footwork and technique if he wants to fulfill his almost unlimited potential.
Now the bad news. Villanueva is a 3-star rated player, and he should be a 4-star. The reason he isn't? Grades. I'm not a big fan of speculating on a players grades, but since it's already been reported by multiple sources that he's not where he needs to be academically, we can talk about it here. Paul Wulff is taking a risk by holding a spot open for a guy who might not make it to campus. He's reportedly taking online classes in hopes of bumping his GPA up to acceptable levels. However, the NCAA Clearinghouse is notoriously slow (Dockery and Mitchell, anyone?). If he gets his grades up, I expect the offers to flood in.
What's important to remember in all of this, however, is Villanueva is our 15th commit in a class where we'll see somewhere around 18 total. Thus far, he's really the only guy who is at risk academically. This class has no JC guys, and everyone not named Maurice Bennett looks to have committed because they actually want to be Cougs. I am all for a risk of this nature. We already have four other offensive linemen in this class, so it's not like we need Villanueva to pan out or we'll be stuck.
All in all, these types of calculated risks are the types of moves we need to make in order to compete in the Pac 12. I'm really impressed with how much better this class has become. If Villanueva makes it to campus (something that isn't guaranteed by any stretch), I think he's too good to redshirt. He might not start from Day 1, but he's too good to sit behind what's currently on our roster.
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