Kyle Rancourt and I email back-and-forth quite often. Usually the topics focus on Dexter villains and condiment choices, but every once and a while we discuss WSU related things. Recently, Kyle and I traded emails on some of WSU's current verbal commitments. With recruiting season heating up, here is our discussion.
MS: Let's start on the offensive side of the ball. Of the 21 current verbal commits, 12 are offensive players. Everyone likes to focus on Tyler Bruggman because he has four stars next to his name, but do any of the other 11 stand out to you?
KR: I love River Cracraft. Dude just understands how to play football. I'm not sure if he'll ever make an All-Pac-12 team, but I think he'll be a very good player for four years. I really like all three of the running backs we're getting, which is weird because Leach likes to run the ball as much as I like yellow mustard. Olito Thompson is a special player and he's a little bigger than the other two guys. I could see him being the Thunder to Teondray Caldwell's Lightning.
Other than that? I really like Vince Mayle. He's huge at wideout and will help fill the void left by Marquess Wilson. I also really like Carlos Freeman on the offensive line.
MS: I'm really interested to see what happens with the three running backs if all three sign. I agree that Thompson likely slides into the role Carl Winston filled last season, but I like Jamal Morrow a lot as well.
He may not have an elite skill trait, but I think he has above average speed, quickness and vision. Of the three, I think he's probably the best bet to move to H receiver.
My biggest concern with this class is while they've added a number bodies along the offensive line, it has the feel of quantity over quality to me. Depth is important and WSU doesn't have much, but do you see any of the current offensive line commits developing into starters?
KR: Stars? No. I think this is a class full of depth, and while that's certainly nothing to scoff at, I just don't see anyone emerging as a star. My best guess would be Freeman, though. If O'Connell didn't get hurt, maybe. He's huge. But I think we went a long ways in shoring up the depth on the offensive line.
I think we have a few kids from last year's class that can be stars, though, so maybe that's why Leach & Co. are focusing on depth now. Maybe we'll see them stagger things a bit. Not necessarily pass on better players for worse ones, because you never do that, but perhaps be all in on a few more highly touted guys next year.
MS: So we have offensive line depth, three talented running backs, some potentially interesting wide receivers. Oh yeah, there is a quarterback too. What's that guy's name?
KR: Cody Clements?
MS: I think you mean Cody Clements' future backup. AMIRITE?!
Seriously though, part of me wishes Clements would transfer somewhere like Fresno State or something and just kill it. Then I could be all, I told you so! But my talent evaluations were just used to WAC and Big Sky players, so I was a bit off. Thanks for nothin', Wulff!
MS: If Justin Wilcox takes over SJSU and Clements transferred there we should launch a Spartan SB Nation site.
Back to WSU, where do you think Bruggman fits in next season. There will be a lot of hype attached to those four stars, but can he realistically challenge Halliday?
How do you compare him to Apodaca?
KR: I think Bruggman redshirts, honestly. I don't see him challenging Halliday for the starting spot and if Halliday is hurt or just can't progress, I'd be more comfortable with Gilbertson or Apodaca. If Bruggman is what you think he is, then let him sit and learn for that first year. I don't think we'll be in a situation where Bruggman playing is a good thing unless he's Johnny Manziel or Marcus Mariota. He's neither of those guys.
I keep going back and watching film of Bruggman, and I don't think he beats out Apodaca. Apodaca does everything he does with more mobility and a better arm, plus he's got a year in Leach's system already. I think people are more excited about Bruggman because he's a 4-star as opposed to Apodaca's 3-stars from last year.
I'll will say, however, that Bruggman is tailor made to play in this offense. I'd prefer Apodaca because he is the complete package, but Mike Leach hand picked Bruggman for a reason.
MS: That about covers the offensive guys already in the fold. Are there any uncommited players WSU could still be in on? A Kenny Lawler type.
KR: There are a few guys, but I've been keeping my eye on Chris Martin. No, not the lead singer of Coldplay. Sorry, Sherwood. Martin is a JC DE/OLB that would be perfect for the BUCK spot. He goes to San Francisco City College, but in 2009 he was a 5-star recruit, and the No. 1 LB in the nation. He signed with Cal, but then immediately transferred to Florida. He sat out a year in Gainsville, but then transferred to a JC. He's definitely risky, as most JC players are, but the talent is there in spades.
Another possibility is Kyle Peko, a JC defensive tackle. Peko played prep ball at La Habra High School with Cody Clements and Brett Bartolone, so there's a connection to WSU. He took his official visit on December 7, and we've been high on his list for some time now. He switched from offensive line to defensive tackle in JC, so he might be the big NT that Breske is looking for.
We're in on some other guys, but I don't know if we'll see another hat ceremony again. I think the picture will become more clear next month, though.
Well there you have it. Assuming Kyle and I take a break from discussing our mutual dislike for Debra Morgan we may be back with a look at the defensive commits in the near future.