Seeking defensive line help with signing day just over a week away, Washington State dipped into San Diego to land a verbal commitment from defensive end Danny Bender on Monday evening.
"I'm grateful for all of my opportunities and I'm excited to announce I'll be playing for Washington State," the El Cajon (Calif.) Valhalla standout tweeted just moments after de-committing from San Diego State, whom he had been committed to since mid-December.
Washington State has been recruiting Bender for quite some time, but it wasn't until this weekend that they extended an offer to the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder while he was on an official visit to San Diego State. Bender also holds offers from Wyoming, Nevada, Northern Arizona and Sacramento State with interest from Washington and Duke.
Bender will take an official visit to Washington State this weekend.
As a senior, Bender racked up 74 tackles, 34 tackles-for-loss, nine sacks, eight batted passes, four forced fumbles and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown. It was also just the second year Bender has played on the defensive line, previously lining up at safety and tight end as a freshman and sophomore, respectively.
Bender is rated a two-star prospect by Rivals, Scout and 247 Sports, who ranks him the No. 122 overall weakside defensive end in the 2016 composite rankings. He joined San Diego (Calif.) Helix linebacker Jihad Woods on the All-Grossmont Hills first team defense this season.
A quick look at Bender's senior season highlights shows an extremely athletic defensive end, who could also project as a rush linebacker at the next level. Think: Dylan Hanser. His is speed jumps off the film, but it's his physicality that's really exciting. While not the biggest defensive end in terms of weight, Bender plays with a mean streak.
A redshirt season is likely in the cards for Bender given his lack of experience at the position, but the tools are definitely there. That's been a theme in this class; there's not many prospects that are going to make an impact right away, but there's a lot of potential who WSU can now afford to build and develop for a year or two.
Overall, Washington State has made it a point to get faster on defense and Bender will provide that wherever he lines up. His long frame should allow him to add some good weight and not lose much of anything in terms of speed, so that's promising.
Washington State now has 24 prospects signed or committed in the 2016 recruiting class, including two other defensive end prospects in Lyric Bartley and Garrett McBroom. Bender is the fourth commit from the San Diego area joining Woods, linebacker Mason Vinyard and receiver Dezmon Patmon.
Defensive tackle Wayne Kirby and defensive end Curtis Weaver are the only two defensive line prospects left on the CougCenter big board. Kirby visited Oregon last weekend and will trip to Utah this week. Weaver just visited Boise State.