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WSU football recruiting: CougCenter's January Big Board — DEFENSE (1/26 update)

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With the recruiting dead period now over, let's take a look at where things stand with WSU football recruiting as signing day approaches.

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The month-long winter recruiting dead period is finally over, which means the Washington State Cougars coaching staff will be hitting the airways over the next few days in preparation for this weekend's official visits.

It's typical for coaches to initiate in-home visits with prospects that will be on campus that weekend so that they can get squared away logistically for the official visit. As of now, there's fourteen confirmed official visitors expected to be in town, so the staff will be busy tomorrow and Friday.

While not a lot has changed over the last couple weeks since our last big board update, this should serve as a completely unofficial overview of all things Washington State recruiting on the defensive side as we enter silly season.

For counting purposes, the Cougars currently hold 22 verbal commitments in addition to the four players that have already signed and arrived on campus. That puts the current class at 26, which is one too many, though there's no indication that the staff is at all close to be finished in this class, so expect fireworks or something.

While there's surely going to be some deflections, academic casualties and greyshirt news over the next three weeks, we're going to stay away from any of that speculation.

Updates

Tuesday, Jan. 19 — According to Rivals analyst Adam Gorney, Long Beach, Calif., defensive end Curtis Weaver will take an official visit to Boise State this weekend. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound line prospect visited WSU over the weekend.

Tuesday, Jan. 19 — Mike Leach and Washington State assistants Ken Wilson, Dave Nichol, Alex Grinch and Eric Mele had in-home visits with linebacker commits Mason Vinyard and Jihad Woods, as well as receiver verbal Dezmon Patmon on Monday evening. The three San Diego prospects hosted the coaches together for a taco night.

Tuesday, Jan. 19 — Los Angeles, Calif., linebacker commit Derek Moore hosted Mike Leach and Eric Mele for an in-home visit on Sunday evening, nearly a week before he's expected to be on campus for his official visit.

Monday, Jan. 25 — Honolulu, Hawaii linebacker Tainoa Foster committed to Fresno State last weekend, so I've removed him from the list. While Washington State had offered, they were pretty full at linebacker. I do think they really liked him as a prospect, there just wasn't any room.

Monday, Jan. 25 — El Covina, Calif., defensive end Danny Bender flipped from San Diego State to Washington State on Monday evening, one day after officially visiting SDSU and two days after picking up a WSU offer. Bender will take an official visit to Pullman this weekend. Here's our commitment story on the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder from the San Diego area.

Monday, Jan. 25 — Pocatello, Idaho defensive tackle Wayne Kirby picked up an offer from Oregon last week and immediately visited Oregon, who appears to now hold a lead with Mike Leach and Joe Salave'a expected to head to Southern Idaho for an in-home this week. Utah, Oregon and BYU, whom he'll unofficially visit prior to his official visit to an official visit to Utah, will also have in-homes with the highly-sought defensive tackle. This is a priority recruit.

Tuesday, Jan. 26 — Cottonwood, Utah linebacker Jackson Kaufusi committed to BYU tonight. The three-star was previously down to Utah, Cal and Washington State, though BYU made a late run and secured his commitment after an in-home visit. He'll take a mission and return in 2018. He was the lone linebacker target left on the big board.

Tuesday, Jan. 26 — Leach and Salave'a had an in-home visit with WSU commit Lyric Bartley this week. The three-star defensive end was also celebrating his birthday and posted about the visit on Twitter shortly afterwards.

Tuesday, Jan. 26 — Leach and Mele attended D'jimon Jones' senior night hoops festivities on Tuesday. The three-star, fresh off an official visit to Washington State, is all set to sign with the Cougars next week.

CLICK HERE FOR THE OFFENSIVE BIG BOARD

WSU Defensive recruiting big board (14)

DEFENSIVE LINE (3 of 3)
Name Hometown Ht/Wt Stars Visit Commit Offers
Lyric Bartley Taylorsville, Utah 6-3/245 *** 4-Dec Yes WSU, Nevada, Purdue, Vandy, Wyo
Garrett McBroom Oklahoma City (CC) 6-3/266 ** 11-Dec Yes WSU, Purdue, WSU
Danny Bender El Covina, Calif. 6-4/225 ** 29-Jan Yes WSU, SDSU, Nev, Wyo
Wayne Kirby Pocatello, Idaho 6-3/306 *** 15-Jan No Utah, BYU, WSU
Curtis Weaver Long Beach, Calif. 6-4/265 *** 15-Jan No BSU, BC, Duke, Wiscy, WSU
LINEBACKER (4 of 4)
Name Hometown Ht/Wt Stars Visit Commit Offers
Mason Vinyard La Mesa, Calif. 6-5/200 *** 15-Jan Yes WSU, SDSU, SJSU
Jihad Woods La Mesa, Calif. 5-11/215 *** 15-Jan Yes WSU, SJSU
Chima Onyeukwu San Pablo, Calif. (CC) 6-3/215 *** 11-Dec Yes WSU, Utah State
Derek Moore Los Angeles, Calif. 6-2/211 ** 15-Jan Yes WSU, Nevada, UNLV, Utah
CORNERBACK (4 of 4)
Name Hometown Ht/Wt Stars Visit Commit Offers
Jalen Thompson Downey, Calif. 5-11/169 *** 11-Dec Yes WSU, Army, CSU, Navy, SDSU, UW
D'jimon Jones Federal Way, Wash. 6-1/170 *** 15-Jan Yes WSU, Hawaii Montana
Marcus Strong Rialto, Calif. 5-11/170 *** 22-Jan Yes WSU, OS, SJSU, UW
Isaiah Love West Covina, Calif. 5-11/160 *** 4-Dec Yes WSU, CU, Fresno, SDSU, SJSU
SAFETY (3 of 2)
Name Hometown Ht/Wt Stars Visit Commit Offers
Skylar Thomas Perris, Calif. 5-11/170 ** 22-Jan Yes WSU, Hawaii, Nevada, UNLV, Wyo
Robert Taylor San Francisco, Calif. (CC) 5-11/180 ** 4-Dec Yes WSU, Purdue, WVU
Justus Rogers Bellevue, Wash. 6-2/210 *** 11-Dec Yes WSU

Adds: DT Wayne Kirby, DE Danny Bender
Drops: LB Pookie Maka, DE Fua Pututau, LB Tainoa Foster, DE Josh Allen, LB Jackson Kaufusi

Much like the offense, the defensive side is pretty much set recruiting-wise, especially with the majority of these prospects firmly committed and almost all of whom are not expected to take any additional official visits to other schools. However, there's room on the defensive line, which we'll get to first.

DEFENSIVE LINE (3 of 3)

Garrett McBroom, the junior college defensive end out of Oklahoma, has officially enrolled in classes, the school announced Monday. McBroom, with two years to play two, should immediately compete to fill the holes vacated by the graduation of Destiny Vaeao and Darryl Paulo.

Could Washington State be in a battle for current verbal commit Lyric Bartley, the three-star defensive end prospect out of Salt Lake City (UT) Taylorsville? According to Scout.com, Bartley is scheduled to take an official visit to Utah State on January 22, news that comes on the heels of the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder landing an offer from Utah days after his official visit and commitment to Washington State. This is a recruitment to watch closely.

With Thomas Toki going the junior college route, there's suddenly a need at defensive tackle, a position that's tough to recruit successfully, especially late in the cycle. The potentially good news for the Cougars is that they've secured an official visit with highly touted stopper Wayne Kirby, a 6-foot-3, 306-pound defensive tackle out of Pocatello (ID) Highland.

Kirby, who de-committed from BYU in the fall, will be taking the first official visit of his recruitment to Washington State this weekend, though he's also taking visits to Utah and BYU over the next two weekends, respectively. It appears that Utah and Washington State are the favorites, and the staff will likely be putting the full court press on this weekend.

Also in town this weekend is Long Beach (Calif.) St. Anthony's Curtis Weaver, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end with double-digit offers from the likes of Boise State, Boston College, Duke, Nevada, Utah State, Wisconsin and several others.

Weaver is a menace on the outside, though he also excelled on the offensive side split out wide, so he brings loads of athleticism and, given his size, could be in play for immediate playing time. Weaver recently picked up an offer from UCF, however no other visits are currently in play. The Cougars have a real shot here, and he'd be a big addition.

Long Beach (Calif.) C.C. defensive end Josh Allen, a former Arizona verbal commitment, has been reported to be officially visiting Washington State next weekend, though we've been unable to confirm his plans. He'll visit Tucson this weekend, so we'll play it by ear with Allen.

The defensive line, like receiver, remains one of the most fluid positional groups to watch as we head towards signing day.

LINEBACKER (4 of 4)

I figure the Cougars will take just four linebackers in this class, though they're bringing in a couple more for visits, one of whom could change the numbers. But we'll start with the newest addition to the board, Jackson Kaufusi.

The three-star outside linebacker from Cottonwood (UT) Brighton says he'll be in Pullman this weekend for an official visit, which will be the first official visit of his recruitment. He'll also visit Cal and Utah this month before making a decision, though Kaufusi won't be signing a letter of intent come signing day.

Kaufusi will serve an LDS mission shortly after he graduates high school and then head to college in 2018. Instead of signing a letter of intent, Kaufusi will sign a "letter of acceptance," which is basically a firm handshake that both sides agree to fulfill down the road. Ultimately, he'll still be a free agent when he returns from his two-year mission.

The linebacker prospect that will be in town this weekend who could shake things up at the position is Tainoa Foster, a two-star prospect out of Honolulu (HI) Kamehameha School. The coaching staff is very high on the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, who also holds offers from Hawaii, Fresno State and Utah State, though WSU may be the favorite heading into the visit.

In total, Washington State will have four linebackers on campus this weekend, as Foster and Jackson join current verbal commitments Mason Vinyard and Jihad Woods. Derek Moore will visit next weekend, Cougfan.com reports. Could WSU take five linebackers in this class? It's possible. It's also possible that they envision one of them moving to the defensive line. Vinyard, at 6-foot-5 and over 200-pounds, comes to mind as a possibility there.

CORNERBACK (4 of 4)

Nothing has changed here other than Jalen Thompson officially enrolling in classes and the rest of the cornerback commits taking their visits in the coming weeks.

D'jimon Jones will be on campus this weekend while Marucs Strong will take his official visit next weekend. Isaiah Love took his official visit last month.

SAFETY (3 of 2)

The Cougars are set at safety, and while I originally assumed they would take just two in this class, I've lumped athlete verbal Justus Rogers into this group despite him technically being a quarterback/athlete.

Rogers officially enrolled in classes this week and Skyler Thomas will take his official visit next week. Robert Taylor, the lone junior college defensive back in this class, officially visited last month.

CLICK HERE FOR THE OFFENSIVE BIG BOARD