Mike Leach's first recruiting class at Washington State University was pretty remarkable when you consider the fact that he only had roughly two months to recruit. We missed out on high profile guys like Kenny Lawler and Cedric Dozier (damn you, California Golden Blogs) but the mere fact that we were even in the conversation speaks volumes to Leach and his staff's ability to recruit.
After talking with a buddy of mine who works for the University of Florida Rivals site about recruiting*, I figured I'd make a preliminary list of guys who we should keep an eye on, some who are realistic, and some who are simply not coming to WSU.
*This past weekend, Florida picked up their 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th commits of the 2013 class. Signing Day was like, three weeks ago. And they have eight commits. I'm baffled.
I want to make it clear that this is simply me tempering expectations. I'm not saying anything is impossible. I never thought we'd be in the running for Dozier, so I'm excited to see what Leach does with an entire year. However, let's all just relax a little. We still went 4-8 last year, and we still have a really bad defense. It's not like we're going undefeated and winning the National Title now with Leach at the helm.
I've divided the guys into three separate categories: No Chance, Probably Not But Maybe, and Realistic. Those in the Probably Not, But Maybe category are guys we normally wouldn't have a chance at, but play a position that would fit in Leach's system well (hey there WRs!) or have some connection with Leach.
Max Browne, QB, Skyline HS (Sammamish, WA) [Scout: ✯✯✯✯, Rivals: ✯✯✯✯✯]
I know everyone wants to think we have a shot at Browne because he's a local QB and Mike Leach's offense would make him look like Superman. It's not happening, guys. Browne is currently Rival's #2 overall QB (although there's a chance it changes when more evaluations are done) and he's holding offers from Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, and Washington, amongst others. We haven't even offered him yet. That's a big deal. I think he winds up at USC eventually, but that's just my gut feeling right now.
Su'a Cravens, S, Vista Murrieta HS (Murrieta, CA) [Scout: ✯✯✯✯✯, Rivals: ✯✯✯✯✯]
We offered Cravens a few weeks ago, and it made the rounds on twitter and the Cougar message boards. Cravens holds offers from 25 different schools right now, and it's February. I've seen guys with upwards of 20 offers before, but never this early. Of those 25 offers, only Hawaii and Utah State aren't BCS offers. (I'm counting Boise State as a BCS offer) Sorry guys, I know you wanted to be excited we were in early on a huge prospect, but this one ain't happenin'.
Riley Sorenson, OT, Santa Margarita Catholic HS (Santa Margarita, CA) [Scout: ✯✯✯✯, Rivals: NR]
The only reason I say we have no chance on Sorenson is because I think he'll stay in California. So far, he's been offered by SMU, UW, and us. He's on a lot of team's radars, so I wouldn't be surprised if he hit double digit BCS offers before it's all said and done. Sorenson is different from Browne and Cravens in the fact that he's not elite (though he is very good), but I just think he'll pick another school.
Probably Not, But Maybe?
Demorea Stringfellow, WR, Rancho Verde HS (Moreno Valley, CA) [Scout: NR, Rivals: ✯✯✯✯]
If we didn't have Mike Leach, Stringfellow would be a No Chance. But we do have Mike Leach. So basically, every WR in the country is at worst a Probably Not, But Maybe. Stringfellow (great name, by the way) is the big outside receiver that we missed out on this class. I'd expect to see two or three bigger guys in this class.
Joe Mathis, DE, Upland HS (Upland, CA) [Scout: NR, Rivals: ✯✯✯✯]
Mathis goes to the same school Kenny Lawler went to, and Lawler's parents seem to have a hand in everything down there. Even though Lawler went to Cal, his parents loved Leach and staff. Normally I'd say we don't really have a shot when a guy has offers from places like Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, UCLA, USC, and UW. However, Leach has now had some time to make inroads and relationships with high school coaches. I still think Mathis winds up at USC or some big national power, but I think we might be in the conversation at least a little.
Sean Constantine, LB, Bellevue HS (Bellevue, WA) [Scout: NR, Rivals: ✯✯✯✯]
It's not that Constantine is so amazing that he'd never consider WSU, it's that we have yet to offer while UW and UCLA already have. Being so close to Montlake, I just sort of assume anyone they want from Bellevue is theirs for the taking. We haven't even offered him yet, so that's another strike. Probably winds up at UW.
Sammie Long, WR, Lakes HS (Lakewood, WA) [Scout: NR, Rivals: NR]
I like Long a lot, and he plays at the same high school that Cedric Dozier did. He's another big WR, and while I don't think he'll be a 4 or 5 star guy, I still think he goes elsewhere. He's currently sitting on one offer, and it's from UW. I think there's a chance Leach can persuade him to play outside in his offense, but I don't think it's a slam dunk either. Perhaps he's in-between Probably Not, But Maybe and Realistic.
Ty Slanina, QB, East Bernard HS (East Bernard, TX) [Scout: ✯✯✯✯, Rivals: NR]
Slanina is a bit small for QB, and Rivals lists him as an ATH. He's super quick and reportedly runs a 4.4 in the 40 yard dash. The schools knocking on his door right now are Baylor, Houston, Texas Tech, and us. I wonder, what do all those schools have in common ...
I actually think it's possible some of those schools see him as a slot WR and not a QB (he's 6'1, 185).
Danny Mattingly, TE/DE, Mead HS (Spokane, WA) [Scout: NR, Rivals: NR]
Mattingly is the little brother of former Coug and frying pan aficionado Andy Mattingly. Like his brother before him, he will play a different position in college. He's mainly a TE at Mead right now, but if he suits up for the Cougs, it'll be at DE. If he has his heart set on playing TE, schools like Oregon State, UCLA, and UW are probably a better fit. While I think he's a solid player and a nice addition if we could get him, I'm not as high on him as others are.
Isaac Savaiinaea, LB, Punahou School (Honolulu, HI) [Scout: NR, Rivals: ✯✯✯✯]
First of all, I want to sign him solely based on watching Mike Leach attempt to pronounce his last name. Second, Joe Salave'a has been working the islands and making inroads with all the coaches. Savaiinaea is a really big 'backer (6'3, 230) and I think they could beef him up a little and make him that OLB/DE hybrid. Yes, I just said beef.
Sefo Liufau, QB, Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, WA) [Scout: NR, Rivals: ✯✯✯✯]
Liufau has been mentored by Cougar legend Jack Thompson for the past year. He has great size (6'4, 219) and a strong, accurate arm. He's big on academics as well, so let's just hope Stanford and Cal stay away. I think he'd be a great candidate to push the rest of the QBs for playing time, if nothing else. I think we have as good a shot as anyone to sign him, but that doesn't mean we're the frontrunner and he's ours to lose.
Jeremy Tabuyo, WR, St. Louis HS (Honolulu, HI) [Scout: NR, Rivals: NR]
Tabuyo comes from storied St. Louis high school in Hawaii, a school that produced Cougar great Jason Gesser. Tabuyo is a speedster in every sense of the word, and is the fastest player I've ever evaluated. He tore his ACL in October, cutting his season short, and his recovery might scare off some potential schools. He told me he was 100% ready to go, and is even getting ready for track season. While he already holds offers from Hawaii and Utah, his top two schools are Oregon and WSU. His former teammate at St. Louis, Marcus Mariota, is now a QB at Oregon, and he'd love to play with him again. He remains very interested in WSU, however, and Mike Leach's offense is a big reason why. Tabuyo is a guy WSU fans should keep an eye on, he could be a steal come Signing Day.
So there you have it, folks. I realize football season is a long ways away, but I hope you found a few prospects to salivate over for the next few months.