With Signing Day only a couple days away and with recruiting talk peaking I wanted to look back at the 2007 WSU recruiting class. My idea is simple to break down the class and examine their contributions to the program, or lack thereof. One very important thing to keep in mind; this was the last class to be signed by Bill Doba and his staff before Paul Wulff took over. Another is that all of the players in this class have moved on from the WSU football program in one way or another. Lastly this class was rated 54th in the nation by Scout and last in the conference by both Scout and Rivals. These are the same guys that saw the program go 5-7, 2-11, 1-11, 2-10 and 4-8. On to the breakdown!
Marshall Lobbestael Oak Harbor HS, 2 Star Rating by both Scout and Rivals
Ocho Rojo, or the Lobster as he came to be known by Coug fans redshirted his freshman year in 2007. When Paul Wulff took the reins in 2008 he found himself third on the depth chart after fall camp behind Gary Rogers and Kevin Lopina. Lobbestael was eventually thrust into action after two freak injuries against Portland St. and Lobster was magnificent in that game. Here’s what Jeff wrote about the performance after the game http://www.cougcenter.com/2008/9/22/619084/a-ray-of-hope-in-the-darkn, Lobbestael went on to start the next three games before getting knocked out of the game against Oregon St. and being replaced by Dan Wagner. This lead to one of my favorite Cougar memories, CPW holding open tryouts for the scout team quarterback job. A competition coincidentally that was won by a guy I blocked for at Woodinville High School, Peter Roberts. Where was I? Right, Lobster. Lobbestael would not play another snap in 2008. He returned to field in 2009 to split starting duties with Kevin Lopina before being replaced against USC by Jeff Tuel. Lobbestael would play quite a bit more the rest of the way but was never really as effective as he was against Portland State as a freshman. As a RS Jr. in 2010 Lobbestael served as Tuel’s backup playing rarely. In 2011 as we all saw he was again placed in the starting role thanks to Jeff Tuel’s collarbone. Lobbestael excelled early in the season and regressed as the season moved along as the Cougs got into the conference part of their schedule. For the second time in his career he was replaced by a hot shot freshman quarterback in Connor Halliday late in the season. Lobbestael had quite a few highlights and I’m sure most of our favorite memory of him will be this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw3gcP7CShw. Isaiah Brown? Who knew Barton was so hard to read? Ultimately Lobbestael acquitted himself nicely in 2011 proving to be a capable backup and spot starter. His career was incredibly eventful with a coaching change, injuries, an unfortunate run in with the Pullman PD, and being moved around on the depth chart. Through it all he was a true Coug and an excellent example for his teammates. He never became the player we hoped he could be after PSU, but he is certainly someone I am proud to say is one of us.
JT Levenseller, Pullman High School, rated 2 stars by Rivals and Scout
JT is the son of long time Cougar’s receivers coach Mike Levenseller. He grayshirted in 2007 and then redshirted in 2008. During fall camp in 2009 he asked for and received his release from the program. He transferred to Eastern to play for the Eagles, but I can’t find anything on him ever seeing the field for them either.
Logwone Mitz Redmond HS, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
Fun fact about Logwone he rushed for 999 yards in his Cougar career. I guess he just didn’t have the heart to break 1000. In seriousness, though it always seemed like Mitz was a guy you always thought would break out, but with the WSU O-line being awful for his entire career and always seeming to find himself second on the depth chart it never really materialized. Mitz’s best season came as RS freshman in 2008 when he rushed 441 yards and 3 tds on 90 carries good for 4.9 yards per carry. Side note: Holy Crap we had a back average nearly 5 ypc in 2008? The average that season for the Cougs was 2.7! Why didn’t we give him the ball more? Anyway 2008 saw Mitz post career highs in both carries and yards. In 2009 he found himself third on the depth chart behind Dwight Tardy and Cal transfer James Montgomery. In 2010, the Cougs moved to a more pass happy attack that favored smaller, shifter backs and at 6’1” 225 lbs. Mitz didn’t exactly fit the mold. All in all he was a decent backup that was either just behind more established players on the depth chart or a poor fit for the scheme. I genuinely feel he could have been much more productive with a better scheme to fit his skillset.
Deon Ford, Rancho Cucamunga HS, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
A career backup, who never made any statistical impact, that I could find. Left the program after the ’09 season after recovering from shoulder surgery. Transferred to Humboldt State a D2 program, and the 2011 GNAC champions as it turns out. He hasn’t made any statistical impact there either.
Jeshua Anderson, Taft HS, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
Jeshua is something of a WSU legend. Just on the track and not on the football field. His numerous hurdles conquests have been well chronicled so I won’t get into them here. But if you don’t know about this guy, you should, seriously look him up, you’ll like what you find. On the football field Jeshua also found a measure of success. He played as a true freshman and was a game changing type of receiver with Alex Brink throwing him the ball. In 2007 he had 12 grabs for 372 yards, that’s 31 yards per catch if you are keeping score at home. In 2008 as a sophomore he was less effective, probably due to the inconsistency/awfulness of the quarterback play. He still managed to get 33 catches for 305 yards good for a solid 9.2 ypc. He ended up leaving the team to focus on track early on in the 2009 season.
Daniel Blackledge, Palmer HS, Colorado, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and 2 stars by Scout
Blackledge played sparingly in ’07 and ’08. It wasn’t until the 2009 season where he got more involved in the offense. That season he had 23 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown. As a senior in 2010 Blackledge was much more effective than in any of his previous 3 seasons totaling 30 catches for 456 yards and 3 tds while improving his ypc from 9.2 to 15.2. His brightest moment came in defeat, which isn’t surprising given the time frame during which he played, when he had 7 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown against UW in the 2010 Apple Cup.
Devin Frischknecht, Snow JC, Utah, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
Devin was one of many JC transfers in the ’07 class and possible the one with the most positive impact on the program. That notion is sort of depressing when you consider he only registered 35 catches for 412 yards and 4 tds in his two year stint on the Palouse. Even more so when you know that 198 of those yards and three of those touchdowns came in two games against Portland St. in 2008 and the ’07 Apple Cup.
Note: It’d be an F but Blackledge managed to put together a decent season in 2010, while Anderson and Frischknecht were serviceable before moving on after two years.
Steven Ayers, Sehome HS, Washington, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
Mostly a backup for his entire career and retired due to concussions in the Spring of 2010. He was well regarded coming out high school with offers to Oregon State and Boise State among others. However, he struggled mightily in the Pac-10 and as I wrote above was mainly a backup and a spot starter amongst a group that was one of the worst offensive lines in the country for his entire career.
Kevin Freitag, Kennedy HS, Washington, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and 2 stars by Scout
Freitag is the second state of Washington product to hang ‘em up for medical reasons from this class. He retired from football in February 2010. Freitag was a backup early in his career before it was completely derailed by injuries.
Andrew Roxas, St. Francis HS, California, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
Actually a pretty decent player. Unfortunately for both us fans and him he seemed to be hurt literally all the time. I can vividly remember making projected depth charts for the Cougs next season and sliding him into the starter’s role a couple of times, only to have him get hurt at some point during the off season.
BJ Guerra, Moses Lake HS, Washington, Rated 2 Stars by Rivals and Scout
Guerra was listed as a defensive tackle prospect coming out of high school, which is interesting because he literally didn’t play a single snap at defensive tackle for WSU. He did however play a lot of guard. Guerra started games at WSU for four seasons at WSU from ’08 through this past season. He was certainly one of our best linemen over that span, not that great of an accomplishment when you consider the guys he played with but I’ll take it. He was never great but he was awful never terrible. He was simply ok which after the past four year is something we should appreciate a lot more. So here’s to you BJ Guerra, thanks for being ok.
Reed Lesuma, San Jacinto JC, California Not Rated by Rivals or Scout
Reed signed a letter of intent three months after signing day in May 2007 and followed his brother Vaughn, another offensive lineman to Pullman. I don’t really remember seeing him play and according to Cougfan he was mostly a backup, with his playing time coming mostly due to injury. I’ll say about him the same thing I said about Ayers, he was a backup to a unit that was incredibly awful.
Vaughn Lesuma, San Jacinto JC, California, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
Vaughn is an enormous human being, he’s listed on his scout profile at 6’5” 340 lbs. He came to WSU when he was 25 years old after a two year LDS mission and two years at two different junior colleges. He played quite a bit in ’07 and ’08 and was a serviceable starter in his time as Cougar. I’d rank him a notch below Guerra, so whatever a notch below ok is. That was Vaughn Lesuma.
Tyson Pencer, Sands HS, British Columbia, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
Pencer was plagued by injuries for a lot of his WSU career. He started a number of games and wasn’t very good. He left the team and WSU before this season. I suppose that isn’t much information but honestly, what more can be said? Pencer fits the mold of almost every other lineman in this class: oft injured, not very good, left the team early for reason x. If you really want some more Pencer played this season for the Okanogan Sun of the Canadian Junior Football League.
Note: This class had 7 O-lineman. Think about that. Two of them were decent. Five either didn’t play or played poorly. It can’t be undersold enough how huge a blow it was to this program to have almost no success with this class.
Ogi Faumui, Garden City JC, Rated 2 stars by Scout
Committed to the Cougs on signing day ’07 but never made it into school and wound up going back to JC for a year before signing with Idaho and playing two years for them.
Jesse Feagin, LA Southwest JC, California, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
According to his scout profile the Cougs were one of Feagin’s only two offers with the other being Idaho. For the life of me I can’t remember any contributions he made on the field and it appears he was primarily a backup.
Grade: Inc./ F
Marshall Pirtz, Centennial HS, Idaho, Not Rated by Scout, 2 stars by Rivals
Pirtz redshirted as a true freshman before spending his RS freshman season on the bench. He transferred to Idaho after the ’08-’09 school year.
Wyman Alexander, Coffeyville JC, Kansas, Rated 2 stars by Rivals and Scout
Often times, the headlines for stories on Cougfan border on the ridiculous and cheesy. Sometimes, though, they hit it head on. For example on Alexander’s profile it links to a story with the headline “Who exactly is this JC LB out of nowhere?” Well nowhere is where he stayed as he never qualified academically at WSU.
Halston Higgins, MacArthur HS, Texas, Rated 2 stars by Rivals and Scout
On his scout profile we are listed as his only offer. Not that, that should tell you anything in particular, but it was definitely a sign of things to come for the WSU football program as plenty of guys would come into the program in the ensuing seasons with WSU as their only major offer. Higgins wasn’t a very good player for the Cougs much like everyone else in this class, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. He does have one positive going for him, his name, which is a sweet alliteration.
Kendrick Dunn, Blinn JC, Texas, Not Rated by Rivals or Scout
Like Reed Lesuma, Dunn was also a May ’07 JC pickup for Doba and his staff. Dunn had some injury problems his first season on the Palouse before starting most of the 2008 season. The 2008 Cougar defense may have been the worst of all time, ever, for anyone. At least Dunn started and played, which is a lot more than you can say for a lot of the guys in this class. Looking at things right now he’s in the conversation for being one of the five best players in this class. That’s a sad thought for what Bill Doba once called his best class.
Terry Mixon, Grossmont JC, California, rated 5 stars by Scout and 4 stars by Rivals
Terry Mixon was a big, bad SOB in Junior college. He was a two time JC All American with offers ASU, Arizona, Cal, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Incredibly he signed with WSU. But in a “this is why we can’t have nice things” moment, he quit the team in September of 2007 before he ever played.
Cornorris Atkins Cleveland HS, California, rated 3 stars by Scout 2 stars by Rivals
Oh, hey this is strange, another kid that left the team before he ever played! Just kidding this whole class is filled with players like that. Atkins left WSU in January 2008.
Devin Giles Coffeyville JC, Florida, Rated 2 stars by Rivals and Scout
You know the drill kicked off the team, hardly played.
Romeo Pellum, Santa Fe HS, California, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
Pellum was one of the more promising young players in this class. Started quite a bit in 2008 and would have probably remained a starter had he not been, wait for it, kicked off the team! That’s four straight that had unfortunate endings to their career. Can we make it five?
Eric Block, Bellevue HS, Washington, Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
Eric Block will be better remembered for his time playing quarterback for the Bellevue Wolverines during one of the most dominant runs of HS football you will ever see. He also played safety for the Cougs. He redshirted in 2007 and ended up as a backup in ’08. I vividly remembering destroying a Stanford receiver when we played them in 2009. Eric ended up retiring from football for medical reasons after the ’09 season.
Alfonso Jackson, Blinn JC, Texas Not Rated
Jackson like Kendrick Dunn came to WSU by way of Blinn Junior College and was a late signing in the spring of 2007. Jackson’s career is sort of similar to Dunn’s in that he was part of a defense that was terrible in almost every aspect but he wasn’t the worst player on that defense so that’s something. It just isn’t much.
Chima Nwachukwu, Allen HS, Texas, Rated 2 stars by Rivals and Scout
Chima was a fan favorite of sorts at WSU. He was one of the rare guys in this class where you could watch him play and think “Hey, this he’s actually doing ok.” Chima certainly had a number of bright moments but wasn’t a consistently great player or anything like that. He also had to deal with switching positions and injuries over the course of his career. He is certainly one of the better players to come out of this class. He was a great student, however, posting a 4.0 GPA in his time at WSU. (Take that Karstetter!)
I should have started this post like this: ready, set, terrible! Terrible is what this class was. There was not a single impact talent in the bunch. There are maybe four or five guys that you can honestly look at and say were good enough to be players at the BCS level. None of which you would probably want as a starter. When people say the cupboard was bare when Wulff arrived this is what they are talking about. Whether it was injuries, academics, or just plain not being very good this class was a complete miss, a total failure that the program is still trying to recover from.