WSU Football Recruiting: Grading The Class Thus Far

With Signing Day rapidly approaching, CougCenter is your one stop shop for all things recruiting. Later tonight, Mark and I will be recording a podcast answering your questions about recruiting, life in general, and R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series. Tomorrow, I'll post my Favorite Five in this class, and Brian should be along shortly with some recruiting links from the mothership.

Earlier today, news broke that S Taylor Taliulu from Hawai'i has de-committed and decided to stay home. I can never fault a kid for staying close to home, especially when we're so far away. Taliulu would have been a good player for us down the line. While this isn't a huge blow, it still stings. I really liked his athleticism.

QB:

Austin Apodaca (6'3, 185, Longmont, CO) [✯✯✯]

Overall Grade: B+

We've discussed Apodaca in great detail, and I think he's going to be a good player for the Cougs. With Jeff Tuel, Connor Halliday, Cody Clements, and now Apodaca in the mix behind center, the future is looking pretty bright for WSU signal callers.

RB:

Teondray Caldwell (5'11, 205, Los Angeles, CA) [✯✯]

Theron West (5'7, 170, Wilmington, CA) [✯✯]

Overall Grade: C

Caldwell and West both excel at different things, and I think Caldwell is probably the more well rounded of the two. West won't see many carries, but he is pretty good at catching the ball out of the backfield. His main skill, however, is in the return game. Caldwell is probably going to to be a more traditional 'back (at least, traditional in Mike Leach's offense) and will add depth to a very thin group of RBs. I don't think either is a homerun, but Caldwell does enough well that he'll be good depth for a while.

TE:

N/A

Overall Grade: INC

What ... what's a Tight End? (And no, Vaeao is not coming here to play TE)

WR:

Alex Jackson (5'11, 175, Culver City, CA) [✯✯✯]

Brett Bartolone (5'10, 180, La Habra, CA) [✯✯]

Gabriel Marks (5'11, 175, Venice, CA) [✯✯✯✯]

Robert Lewis (5'10, 160, South Gate, CA) [✯✯✯]

Overall Grade: A

Now, this not a completed class, and guys like Cedric Dozier or Kenny Lawler could still jump on board. If either of those guys do, this class is an A+. If somehow both do? A+++++++++++pantsoff++++++++++omg+++++++

Leach grabbed four guys who excel at making people miss in space. These are his inside receivers, and you'll hear a lot of Wes Welker and Danny Amendola comparisons. A guy like Lawler, though, is more of a Marquess Wilson or Michael Crabtree. I think this my Fave Five tomorrow might include four WRs and Mike Leach.

OL:

Denzell Dotson (6'3, 315, Glendale, AZ) [✯✯✯]

Sam Flor (6'4, 285, Seattle, WA) [✯✯]

Eduardo Middleton (6'5, 280, Oceanside, CA) [✯✯✯]

Pierson Villarrubia (6'5, 270, Mandeville, LA) [✯✯]

B.J. Salmonson (6'5, 265, Everson, WA) [✯✯]

Niu Sale (6'3, 300, Wilmington, CA) [✯✯]

Overall Grade: B -

While it's certainly no secret I love Dotson, I'm not quite as high on Salmonson or Villarrubia. If anyone greyshirts, I'd think those two players would be the leading candidates. I really like Flor. Middleton is going to take a little longer, but he'll be a good player, as well. Sale is interesting, and should help out immediately, at least in terms of depth. The class as a whole isn't bad, as there's only one JC guy, but two of the HS kids probably aren't talented enough to be more than career backups.

CB:

N/A

Overall Grade: F

Not an incomplete, an F. Did you see our secondary last year? We need all the help we can get. While, yeah, we are in the running for both Alphonso Marsh and Raymond Ford, I wouldn't count on either to commit. I think Marsh winds up at Utah while Ford goes to Nebraska. It's worth noting that Ford already eliminated us from his Top 3, but then changed his mind. He also said he knew which school he would be choosing after tripping to Nebraska. He later took visits to Utah and WSU. Recruiting is so ridiculous, guys.

S:

David Bucannon (6'2, 175, Fairfield, CA) [✯✯✯]

Feddie Davey (5'11, 190, Miami, FL) [✯✯]

Overall Grade: C -

Taliulu would have helped out, but all three are still projects. Bucannon, who is Deone Bucannon's little brother, played both ways at Fairfield HS. I actually thought he was better on offense, to be honest. He does like to hit people, though. He's a little thin for me as a safety, but a year in a college conditioning program will change that. I never posted my evaluation for him because it was right when I was first starting here at CougCenter. I was still nervous to post things. After I started doing everyone's evals, I figured I'd get around to Bucannon's and it never happened. My super quick eval: he's ok, he hits like a ton of bricks, but he's skinny. If his name was David Smith and he wasn't related to one of our star players, I'm not sure we'd have offered him. I don't mind the pick up at all, and I think he's an interesting prospect. I wouldn't count on him contributing from Day 1 like big bro did, though.

Davey is interesting, as he was a LB in high school. He's a little raw in terms of coverage ability, but holy cow can he lay the wood. I like Davey as a developmental prospect, and someone who could excel on Special Teams. There's been a bunch of new interest in him from teams down south. He remains committed to WSU, but if he chose someone closer to home, I wouldn't be shocked.

LB:

Jacob Tuivaiave (6'4, 240, Tacoma, WA) [✯✯]

Khalil Pettway (6'4, 205, Culver City, CA) [✯✯]

Kache Palacio (6'2, 225, Gardena, CA) [✯✯]

Keith Ewing (6'1, 215, Bellaire, TX) [✯✯]

Overall Grade: C +

Tuivaiave probably moves to DE, but there's a good chance he's the OLB/DE hybrid they're looking for in the 3-4. Of the four, Tuivaiave is the most raw. He'll need a lot of time to develop. Pettway and Palacio are more likely to see the field sooner, but both played DE in high school. Ewing is small, but a year in our conditioning program should remedy that. I still haven't seen any video of him, so I don't want to make any sweeping proclamations. I think all of these guys will see time at OLB and DE. I would have liked to bring in Jordan Pulu to play in the inside, but Leach didn't think he fit.

DL:

Ioane Gauta (6'4, 310, Fullerton, CA) [✯✯]

Destiny Vaeao (6'4, 255, Pago Pago, AS) [NR]

Robert Barber (6'3, 290, Pago Pago, AS) [NR]

Overall Grade: D

Gauta is the best of the bunch, and he'll probably be a back up and spot starter for his entire (two year) career. He's big, so that's a plus. We've talked about the kids from Samoa quite a bit this past week, but we need to understand just how far away they actually are in terms of football skill. Raw doesn't even begin to describe them. Vaeao is the better of the two, and he'll still need a few years. Barber could be alright, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

K/P:

Mike Bowlin (6'4, 204, Mission Viejo, CA) [✯✯]

Overall Grade: B

Bowlin is probably going to kickoff next year while Andrew Furney focuses on field goals. I actually really like Bowlin, and wouldn't be surprised if he took over the full time kicking duties at some point. Furney was solid last year, but I haven't been comfortable with a WSU kicker in a very long time. Bowlin actually committed to Oregon and was the #3 ranked kicker coming out of high school.

Overall Class Grade: C

While it's not as bad as last year's class, it's still not as good as many of you want it to be. The WRs are the clear bright spot, followed by some solid offensive lineman. When you compare what Wulff did in two months to what Leach did in the same time frame, it's not even close. Wulff was universally given a pass for his first recruiting class. Leach just said, "Screw it, let's swing for the fences." I'm anxious to see what he can do with a full year.

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