When the WSU football twitter account starts tweeting exclamation points, there is a very good chance something good is happening on the recruiting front. That was the case on Saturday night, not once, but twice.
It's a great day to be a WSU Coug!!!! #GoCougs— WSUCougFootball (@wsucougfb) December 15, 2013
More good news here at WSU! #gocougs— WSUCougFootball (@wsucougfb) December 15, 2013
Sure enough, not long after the tweets, news broke of a pair of verbal commitments with running back Squally Canada and defensive end Kingston Fernandez both going crimson. Fernandez and Canada were two of the 11 players taking official visits to Pullman this weekend. Both appear to be the high-upside type of prospects Mike Leach and his staff are working to bring to Pullman.
The opinion on Canada from the recruiting services varies quiet a bit. Rivals ranks him as a 2-star prospect, but ESPN likes him as a 4-star prospect and the No. 33 running back in the country. I tend to side with ESPN this time, and it's not just because they give him the more favorable review. Canada is especially impressive in his highlights, showing just about everything you could want from a running back.
Speed, power, agility, patience, vision. I'm not sure what's not to like. Canada reminds me a lot of Bishop Sankey, especially with his ability to make quick movements in tight spaces. Top end speed is great, but the ability to run with balance and turn short gains into medium and long gains is much more important. It's not that Canada is slow either, he runs by, through and around defenders in his highlights. He originally committed to Boise State and had offers from Oregon State, Colorado and Nevada among others.
Fernandez played defensive end in high school, but I would expect him to shift to BUCK linebacker at WSU. Physically, he has all the traits you want from a BUCK. He has the size at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, but also appears to run well and has good quickness. Listed 40-yard dash times for Fernandez range from 4.6 to 5.0 seconds, so he's probably somewhere in between.
He's from Hawaii and didn't receive a lot of recruiting interest until recently. Arizona State offered Fernandez in early November, according to Hawaii Prep World with WSU increasing interest after the Sun Devils. If you're going to play against lackluster competition -- like it appears Fernandez does -- you need to be a dominant player. He is just that. He finished his senior season with 68 tackles, 15 of which were for a loss, and 17 sacks. His combination of quickness and power was too much for most offensive linemen.
Seriously, it looks like he's going up against tackling dummies at times with the way he abuses the opponents.
We'll have to wait and see how he fares once he gets to WSU. At least in those highlights he looks like a cross between Kache Palacio and Destiny Vaeao. The speed and quickness of Palacio but with better size and strength. Joe Salave'a continues to recruit Hawaii and the American Samoa very well.
With Canada and Fernandez in the fold the Cougars now have 19 verbal commitments in the 2014 class and 22 if you count the three players grayshirting. That is also six verbal commitments in less than a week. The virtues of making a bowl game are paying off already.