For the Washington State Cougars football staff, over two years of tireless work, including thousands of miles traveled and hundreds of hours of film watched, comes to fruition in the form of pieces of paper popping out of a fax machine.
It all begins tomorrow around 5 a.m. when national letters of intent can finally be sent in. Or they won't be sent in, which also adds to the intrigue of signing day, which was rather painful a year ago, but we'll just not talk about that.
For the Cougars, it's been a rather uneventful three weeks leading up to tomorrow's festivities — that's a good thing! So far, WSU has suffered just three de-commitments — all quarterbacks — and as of today, there's no sense that any of the current commitments could be wavering, but we know that's usually just a pipe dream.
There will, however, be a few prospects who are still considering WSU that will be deciding on their future in their high school gymnasiums on Wednesday afternoon. Hat dances are always fun, so we'll be sure to catch you up on that below.
For counting purposes, the Cougars currently hold 23 verbal commitments in addition to the four players who have already signed and arrived on campus. That puts the current class at 27, though two commits — WR Josiah Westbrook and WR Stevie Houston — are not expected to sign tomorrow. We'll get to that below.
Of course, should any of the remaining targets decide they want to rock a crimson cap at their announcements, that would put the Cougars over the limit of 25 initial counters, so they'd have to get creative. While there's a much greater than zero change that there's a defection, an academic casualty or greyshirt news over the next 24 hours, we're going to stay away from any of that speculation. We'll know soon enough.
I'll be providing updates right below these words through tomorrow, so be sure to check back early and often for all of your WSU recruiting news, because of course you want to know where 17-year-olds will be going to college immediately.
Monday, Feb. 2 — 8:20 a.m.
As I mentioned below, Washington State has continued to monitor the receiver position and has been evaluating a number of junior college prospects. One of those prospects is four-star junior college WR Juwann Winfree, whom the Cougars offered out of the 2014 class.
The New Jersey area product and signed with Maryland out of high school, though he was dismissed from the program after his freshman year for violating the student-athlete code. He eventually landed at Coffeeville, Kan., C.C. where he starred this season. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver de-committed from Pittsburgh yesterday and is reportedly now deciding between Colorado and Memphis tomorrow.
However, I can confirm that Washington State has reached out to Winfree, who is listening to what the Cougars have to offer despite no official visit. Jumping in this late in the game, and with Colorado looking like the favorite, it's unlikely WSU can make a move, but it's worth monitoring.
— 9:45 a.m. —
In our latest offensive line update below, we mentioned that Jaelen Lewis was a prospect to watch leading up to signing day given his recent official visits to Fresno State and San Jose State. Sure enough, the Antelope, Calif., offensive tackle has flipped his commitment from WSU to San Jose State. We've got you covered with the latest here.
With Lewis no longer in the fold, Washington State now holds verbal commitments from five offensive line prospects, which you can see below, and they're still waiting on a decision from Frederick Mauigoa. Additionally, WSU's class now sits at 24.
WSU offensive recruiting big board (10)
|QUARTERBACK (0 of 0)|
|RUNNING BACK (1 of 1)|
|Romello Harris||Tulare, Calif.||5-10/173||***||22-Jan||Yes||CSU, Duke, Fresno, UW, WSU|
|RECEIVER (4 of 4)|
|Grant Porter||Upland, Calif.||6-2/184||***||22-Jan||Yes||WSU, BSU, CSU, KU, SDSU, SJSU, Utah|
|Renard Bell||Los Angeles, Calif.||5-10/165||***||15-Jan||Yes||WSU, BSU, Fresno, Nevada, SDSU|
|Isaiah Johnson||West Palm Beach, Fla.||6-3/190||***||4-Dec||Yes||Florida, Miami, L'Ville, So. Car, WSU|
|Dezmon Patmon||San Diego, Calif.||6-4/202||***||4-Dec||Yes||WSU, BSU Cal, CU, CSU, SDSU|
|Stevie Houston||Oxnard, Calif.||6-3/185||***||—||?||WSU|
|Josiah Westbrook||Bellingham, Wash.||6-1/180||***||—||?||WSU, Hawaii|
|OFFENSIVE LINE (5 of 5)|
|Joshua Watson||Everett, Wash.||6-5/265||***||15-Jan||Yes||WSU, BSU, Fresno, Idaho, UC Davis|
|Keenen King||Las Vegas (CA) Arbor View||6-4/297||***||4-Dec||Yes||WSU, ASU, CU, CSU, OS, SDSU, USU|
|Liam Ryan||La Verne (CA) Damien||6-6/270||**||11-Dec||Yes||WSU,AF, Fresno, NV, NM, SJSU|
|Nilsson Gaisoa||Kailua, Hawaii||6-5/275||**||22-Jan||Yes||WSU|
|Christian Haangana||Milpitas (CA) HS||6-5/345||**||22-Jan||Yes||WSU, Oregon St., SJSU|
|Frederick Mauigoa||Pago Pago (A.S) Tafuna||6-4/290||***||22-Jan||No||WSU, OS|
|ATHLETE (0 of 1)|
|Zion Echols||Covina, Calif.||5-8/175||***||15-Jan||No||WSU, Cal|
|Tayler Hawkins||Palm Springs, Calif.||6-0/180||***||15-Jan||No||WSU, SDSU|
While the defense is pretty much squared away minus one target's decision, the there are still several offensive targets that have yet to make a college decision, which can result in a lot of moving parts come tomorrow afternoon. Let's get to it.
QUARTERBACK (0 of 0)
Washington State lost their third verbal commitment two weeks ago when St. John Bosco, Calif., signal caller Quentin Davis backed off his pledge. The late de-commitment opened up a scholarship among the Cougars' 25, and it's almost a certainty that WSU will, surprisingly, not take a scholarship quarterback this cycle.
Bryce Missey, a preferred walk-on quarterback out of Spanaway, Wash., reaffirmed his commitment to Washington State last week, so they'll at least be bringing in one quarterback. Justus Rogers, who arrived on campus early, will get a crack at quarterback this spring, though it's expected that he'll end up on the defensive side, but who knows.
If the Cougars do indeed forego a scholarship quarterback in this cycle, it's not the end of the world. Barring a transfer at the position, they'll still have two underclassmen quarterbacks on the roster in Peyton Bender and Tyler Hilinski, while Luke Falk looks like he'll be under center for at least one more season and likely two.
There's a nice crop of 2017 quarterbacks that have showed legit interest in WSU, so going all in on one of the top quarterbacks next year is likely the route WSU is taking. They'll probably bring in another preferred walk-on when it's all said and done, as well.
RUNNING BACK (1 of 1)
Romello Harris took an official visit to Washington State this month and if there was any doubt about his commitment status, that visit sealed the deal. Harris, who had surgery this week and is likely to redshirt this season, may not be the only running back the Cougars take in this class, however.
Three-star athlete Zion Echols, who took an official visit to Washington State the same weekend Harris did, will be making a signing day decision between Cal and WSU tomorrow afternoon.
The running back, whom WSU would also deploy as a slot receiver and return guy, has been considered a Cal lean, though he's already de-committed from the Golden Bears once. To complicate matters more, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin bolted to Middle Tennessee State while Echols was on campus two weeks ago, though it's unknown whether that will have an impact on his decision as Cal is likely to keep the same system in place.
WIDE RECEIVER (4 of 4)
Another position that seems to be pretty set in stone, yet could still see a lot of movement over the next 24 hours. What we do know is that Dezmon Patmon, Renard Bell, Grant Porter and Isaiah Johnson (who is already on campus), will be signing with WSU tomorrow. What we don't know is the exact circumstances surrounding two other receiver verbals.
CougCenter was able to confirm that Stevie Houston was not expected to sign with the Cougars on Wednesday. Cougfan.com, who first reported the news, also reports that Josiah Westbrook is not expected to sign. It's unknown whether the pair of prospects will be greyshirting, blueshirting or had their offers rescinded due to academics.
Another prospect that has yet to make a college decision is Tayler Hawkins, a three-star athlete from Palm Springs, Calif., who is deciding between Washington State and San Diego State. Hawkins could play cornerback or receiver at the next level, though I have a hunch that he would wind up at receiver.
Hawkins could announce at any time, and it appears to truly to be a 50-50 toss up between the two schools. To stay close to home or not? That appears to be the burning question for the talented athlete.
So, if Hawkins doesn't pick WSU, does WSU look at another receiver? For starters, the Cougars have been connected to a number of other receivers over the last couple weeks. I have a feeling they're not done here, and that there could be a junior college receiver added to the mix at some point, not necessarily tomorrow. It'd make sense, at least.
They have a big group of underclassmen coming in and their two top receivers, Gabe Marks and River Cracraft, will be graduating. Having an experienced receiver to add to the mix with Ky Priester and others over the next two years would be beneficial. We'll see what happens, but I know the staff has been evaluating a few junior college receivers.
OFFENSIVE LINE (5 of 5)
The big news regarding offensive line recruiting came last week when it was revealed that Washington State has held a commitment from Hawaiian hoss Nilsson "Miga" Gaisoa for the last few months. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound tackle prospect was also hearing from Oregon, Colorado and others, but remained committed to WSU and took an official visit two weekends ago.
With Gaisoa in the fold, Washington State now has six offensive line verbal commits with one of the top offensive lineman in the West, Frederick Mauigoa, expected to make a decision on signing day. Mauigoa, the No. 1 prospect in American Samoa, will make his college decision between Washington State and Oregon State, whom he visited last weekend. The Cougars, with Joe Salave'a in charge of Mauigoa's recruitment, figure to be the favorite.
The rest of the offensive line verbal commits, Christian Haangana, Liam Ryan, Keenen King and Josh Watson, are each expected to sign on the dotted line tomorrow. What about three-star commit Jaelen Lewis, you ask? Well, he's visited Fresno State and SJSU over the last couple weeks, so that's one letter of intent to follow closely tomorrow. (EDIT: He's now flipped to SJSU.)
If everyone sticks and Mauigoa picks WSU, would Washington State really take seven offensive lineman in this class? They'd for sure make room for Mauigoa, given their recent Samoan pipeline, and that's one they'd obviously like to continue with this cycle. With Sam Flor and Brandon Evers transferring, that could open up a need to get an extra body or two in the trenches.
Tomorrow should give us plenty of answers on who's in and who's not. Call in sick and buckle up.