There was much gnashing of teeth over the weekend when record-setting Spokane-area quarterback Brett Rypien -- a consensus four-star recruit who had been offered by Mike Leach and WSU -- announced via Twitter that he had decided to attend Boise State.
It's not like WSU isn't turned down by four-star recruits all the time, but this one obviously is different because of the geography and the position he plays and that famous last name. It's never a great look when you are the first offer to a kid who is in your backyard and the nephew of a prominent alumnus and he decides to go elsewhere.
And when "elsewhere" is a Mountain West school ... well, that really stinks.
In explaining his decision, Rypien told Greg Lee of the Spokesman-Review, "For me, it came down to three things I was looking for. I wanted a good coaching staff, good facilities and an atmosphere I could see myself being successful in for four years. Boise State definitely has all of that for me. I was really blown away by their facilities."
That's last item is a bit of a kick in the nuts, given all that WSU is investing in facilities at the moment. But things aren't quite finished, and I've watched enough home renovation shows with my wife to know that it can often be difficult for people to visualize a finished product; it's tough to say whether WSU's facilities really are behind Boise's. I actually have no idea.
What I do have an idea about, though, is how the mind of a teenager functions. I work closely with about 150 of them for about 40 hours a week, and I can tell you that there really is only one thing you need to remember about the teenage mind: Trying to figure out what's going on inside of it is silly and futile, and you probably should just stop.*
*Seriously -- if you never forget that, you'll be sooooooo much more content as you follow recruiting.
For example: One part of that quote that sticks out is "an atmosphere I could see myself being successful in for four years." The first reaction is, "Wait -- he doesn't think WSU has an atmosphere where he be successful?"
But what does that actually mean? Does it mean he saw an opportunity to start right away at BSU that doesn't exist at WSU? Does it mean that he thought Boise State had the best atmosphere for him to develop and reach his maximum potential over the course of his career, regardless of when he'd start? Does it mean that his girlfriend hates WSU, wants to go to BSU, and her presence is what will allow him to be successful?
I'm not suggesting that Rypien is as shallow as that third question would imply. However, I know there are athletes who actually are that shallow, but would never admit it publicly. And you know what those guys say to reporters after committing? Something generic about the coaches, the atmosphere and the facilities.
In other words, don't parse Rypien's to draw some grand conclusion about him or the state of WSU vs. Boise State. The reasons players commit to universities are as varied and unique as the players themselves, and when a kid commits elsewhere, as Rypien did, it really ought to be enough to take him at his word, wish him well, and move on to the next prospect.
Unfortunately, this still leaves Mike Leach with an elite-QB-sized hole in his 2015 class, and he has moved quickly to offer two other California quarterbacks: Tyler Hilinski and Brady White. White is the more highly regarded of the two, and consensus four-star recruit via 247sports.com who is their No. 4 rated pro-style quarterback. Hilinski is a consensus three-star recruit, rated 22nd overall at pro-style quarterback by composite score.
White already has at least 13 offers, ranging from Washington State to Arizona State to Penn State, while Hilinski has lots of schools sniffing around but only two reported Division I offers -- from WSU and Utah State. (247sports also is reporting an offer from Pennsylvania.) Because of that, Hilinski appears to be the more likely quarterback to land in Pullman. And it looks like Leach is putting on the full-court press.
"He was very complimentary of my quick release and decision-making," Hilinski told Rivals.com's Adam Gorney."Hearing him say how he thinks I can make a huge impact on their ultimate goal to win the Pac-12 championship and the BCS title was very exciting."
The interesting thing here is that White would be an objective upgrade on Rypien, and our own Brian Anderson believes Hilinski is every bit as good as the GSL star -- and, in fact, reminds him of another GSL star: Connor Halliday. If you land one of these two guys, WSU is in fine shape.
But for arguments' sake, let's say neither of these guys lands at WSU and Leach is forced to move on to Plan C -- a guy who presumably would be a big cut below the guys currently targeted. How big of a deal is that? To get to the answer, here are all of the quarterbacks who have signed with WSU since 2002:
Signed since 2002 (Career Pass Attempts)
|2002||4-star||Carl Bonnell (0)||-||-|
|2003||2-star||Alex Brink (1,447)||2-star||Kyle Kendrick (0)|
|2004||3-star||Gary Rogers (120)||2-star||Cole Morgan (0)|
|2005||3-star||Arkelon Hall (0)||-||-|
|2007||2-star||Marshall Lobbestael (603)||3-star||Kevin Lopina (256)|
|2008||2-star||Calvin Schmidtke (0)||-||-|
|2009||3-star||Jeff Tuel (864)||-||-|
|2010||3-star||Connor Halliday (1,108)||-||-|
|2011||3-star||Cody Clements (0)||-||-|
|2012||3-star||Austin Apodaca (42)||-||-|
|2013||4-star||Tyler Bruggman (0)||-||-|
|2014||3-star||Peyton Bender (N/A)||-||-|
Something should be very clear from looking at that chart, but in case it isn't, follow me.
- WSU signed 14 quarterbacks in the 12 classes between 2002 and 2013.
- From 2004 until 2013, WSU attempted 4,440 passes.
- More than 90 percent of those passes have been thrown by just four guys: Brink, Lobbestael, Tuel and Halliday.
- Moreover, of those 14, six left school without ever having attempted a pass!
So, while I recognize losing a recruit from Spokane with a famous last name is a bit of an embarrassment, and understand that Leach has a Jon Gruden-like fetish for stockpiling arms, from an on-the-field perspective, losing Rypien isn't really a huge deal as long as you think Tyler Bruggman and/or Luke Falk and/or Peyton Bender is/are good enough to carry the torch after Halliday graduates. And it's important to remember that Leach is still pursuing guys who are as good or better than Rypien.
It's clear that you can go one and sometimes two classes without landing a quality quarterback and be just fine. While it would have been nice to secure Rypien, there's a good chance WSU will be just fine without him.