WSU Football Recruiting: What to expect from Mike Leach going forward

"So ... Dennis Erickson?" - Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

What can we expect, from an overall perspective, in future recruiting classes? Let's take a look at Leach's history at Texas Tech.

Originally, I wanted to simply check things out for myself, to get a better understanding of how Mike Leach operates his recruiting classes. After I replied to WazzuCrew11 and TiltingRight in Mark's projected depth chart post, I thought I might dig a little deeper, and turn that comment into it's own post.

First, this is by no means concrete. Originally, I only used Scout's database to compile information, but that only goes back to 2002. Mike Leach was hired at Texas Tech in 2000, and he only had a handful of weeks to put together a class. Counting Texas Tech's Class of 2000 seems a bit unfair, as does their Class of 2010 considering he was fired in December of 2009. The Class of 2001 seems to be completely redacted from the internet, so we'll just look at 2002 - 2009. For continuity's sake, I just stuck with Scout. The raw numbers:

2002:

Conference Rank: 4
Overall Rank: 14
Average Star Ranking: 3.29
Total Players: 24
Number of JC Players: 3 (RB, CB, DT)
Highest Rated Player: Johnnie Mack, ✯✯✯✯✯ RB (JC)

2003:

Conference Rank: 7
Overall Rank: 37
Average Star Ranking: 2.92
Total Players: 24
Number of JC Players: 8 (OL, CB x4, DE x2, RB)
Highest Rated Player: Daniel Christian, ✯✯✯✯✯ OL

2004:

Conference Rank: 4
Overall Rank: 17
Average Star Ranking: 2.65
Total Players: 26
Number of JC Players: 8 (QB, DE x3, LB, S, WR, DT)
Highest Rated Player: Graham Harrell, ✯✯✯✯ QB

2005:

Conference Rank: 5
Overall Rank: 36
Average Star Ranking: 2.67
Total Players: 21
Number of JC Players: 0
Highest Rated Player: McKinner Dixon, ✯✯✯✯ DT

2006:

Conference Rank: 4
Overall Rank: 17
Average Star Ranking: 2.85
Total Players: 34
Number of JC Players: 1 (OL)
Highest Rated Player: Ofa Mohetau, ✯✯✯✯✯ OL (JC)

2007:

Conference Rank: 8
Overall Rank: 44
Average Star Ranking: 2.56
Total Players: 27
Number of JC Players: 3 (CB, DE x2)
Highest Rated Player: Lonnie Edwards, ✯✯✯✯ OL

2008:

Conference Rank: 12
Overall Rank: 59
Average Star Ranking: 2.93
Total Players: 15
Number of JC Players: 4 (DT, DE x2, CB)
Highest Rated Player: McKinner Dixon, ✯✯✯✯ DE (JC)

2009:

Conference Rank: 4
Overall Rank: 30
Average Star Ranking: 2.84
Total Players: 25
Number of JC Players: 1 (DT)
Highest Rated Player: Brandon Mahoney, ✯✯✯✯ LB

  • Leach's average per star rating for these eight years was 2.84. To put this into some perspective, Leach's Class of 2013 this year at WSU averaged 2.82, good for best in school history.
  • Leach's 2002 class was pretty remarkable, especially considering it was only his 2nd full class. Take that class out of the rankings, and their average drops to 2.77. Prior to 2013, WSU's best class was at 2.76 (2010). So, his average class minus his best class was still better than WSU's best class.
  • Looking at it from a positional standpoint, Leach likes to bring in very balanced classes. He almost brings in a new "team" each year. This helps quite a bit with competition.
  • Leach went heavy on the JC kids in 2003 & 2004, but 11 of the 16 were members of the DL or secondary. When going the JC route, he seems to prefer defensive linemen or cornerbacks.
  • As I mentioned in the comment that sparked this post, Leach's OL by class were as follows: 4, 4, 4, 5, 7, 7, 3. In 2010, Tech took 3 OL. It stands to reason that he should only take two or three OL in 2014. I'd bet one of them is a JC guy, too.
  • In the same eight year span, WSU's average per star rating was 2.49.
  • His 2006 class is pretty crazy. He brought in a whopping 34 players and still managed to average a 2.85.
  • In Paul Wulff's three full seasons of recruiting (2009-2011), he averaged a 2.61.

This is not to say that Mike Leach is a perfect recruiter who will start to bring in Top 20 classes for Washington State. I do believe we're looking at a different caliber of player, though. I tried to formulate my thoughts via twitter last week, and Joshua Davis of All Coug'd Up took the ball and ran with it. I couldn't quite figure out how to say what I was thinking, but he does a fantastic job with the following:

While Wulff and Co. recruited plenty of potential, they couldn’t get the players that already have the talent to compete in this conference. The players this years weren’t the top of the bottom, they were the bottom of the top.

That pretty much says exactly what I was thinking.

And while we may strike out on most of the big name guys, we're legitimately in the conversation now. That's an incredible situation to be in considering how bad this team has been the past five years.

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