Positive football things have been few and far between for Washington State football this season, which is somehow only three weeks old and has yet to reach Pac-12 play.
The Cougars’ 50-point thrashing of Idaho over the weekend temporarily calmed Washington State’s portion of the Internet, which was sorely needed heading into the bye week, but it wasn’t all partly cloudy skies and touchdowns this weekend.
As the coaching staff packed their bags to hit the recruiting trail this week, they received some not-so-pleasant news Sunday evening as Cyrus Habibi-Likio, a running back from Mountain View, Calif., backed off his verbal pledge to Washington State.
The 24/7 Sports Composite three-star running back, who committed to area recruiter Jim Mastro and the Cougars back in May, announced his decision on Twitter, saying that "taking official visits while I’m committed to school doesn’t feel morally right."
Habibi-Likio's mom, Atousa Habibi, says her son's decision to de-commit from the school was not directly influenced by the team's off the field problems in recent months.
"He's standing by his players, which is what a coach would do," Habibi told Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times in regards to Leach and the WSU football program. "It doesn't make me think, 'Oh they're just this scummy team.' It happens. Not just at WSU but everywhere. I'm the type of person who's an advocate of 'innocent until proven guilty' so I think there's a bigger picture there and we have to see how it plays out.
"Hopefully these boys will be proven not guilty. I hope it's not the end of their careers because it's one bad choice. If anything this is a lesson for Cyrus and all the players."
Habibi-Likio recently took an official visit to Utah and has also expressed interest in Iowa State, though he also noted that he is still considering Washington State as one of his top choices. The Saint Francis star also holds offers from BYU, UNLV, Wyoming and New Mexico.
The Cougars have now lost two verbal commitments in the current recruiting cycle — four-star receiver Isaiah Hodgins, who took a a pair of unofficial visits to the Palouse with Habibi-Likio this spring, also de-committed recently — and now have 14 verbal commitments in the 2017 class.
While Habibi-Likio isn’t technically out of the picture as of now, it’s rare for a prospect these days to de-commit then re-commit at a later date. Not impossible, just unlikely!
Washington State will definitely take a running back this cycle, so where might they look next?
|ATH||Chris Brooks||Newbury Park, Calif.||5-10/180||***||Yes||Arizona, SDSU, CSU|
|RB||Cole Dubot||Murietta, Calif.||6-1/190||**||Yes||OSU, AFA, Nevada|
|RB||Chance Bell||Burbank, Calif.||5-10/180||***||No||SDSU, ISU, AFA|
Brooks already has an official visit to Washington State set up for the Cougars' tilt with Arizona, who Brooks is also seriously considering. Brooks could play either running back or slot receiver at the next level. Despite holding 15 offers, include Pac-12 invites from the Cougars and Oregon State, Dubot has flown under the radar this cycle. Dubot will likely visit Washington State this fall.
The coaching staff has yet to extend additional offers since Habibi-Likio's de-commitment, however San Diego State running back Chance Bell is a name to watch in the coming weeks. Bell, who committed to the Aztecs in late July, was adamant that he was 100 percent committed when he pulled the trigger on an unofficial visit, but recruiting, you know?
More recruiting notes:
From a recruiting standpoint, the last couple weeks have not been kind to Washington State. ESPN segments about arrests and losing to an FCS team are a bad look. There hasn't been much in terms of public displays of dissatisfaction among the recruits on social media, but it's something to watch for in the coming weeks as opposing programs use it as a recruiting tactic.
A number of recruits have been setting up official visits, as well. A pair of cornerback commits — Charles Watson and Tayari Venable, both three-star prospects — will be in Corvallis this weekend to see the Beavers take on Boise State. Three-star receiver Tyquez Hampton will be in Salt Lake City to see the Utes take on the USC Trojans this weekend. Hampton is also likely to visit West Virginia, in addition to Washington State.
The Cougars extended an offer to in-state offensive lineman Quazzel White on Tuesday. It's the first Pac-12 offer for White, a 6-foot-4, 306-pounder out of Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln. White also holds offers from Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State, New Mexico, Idaho and others.
Four-star quarterback verbal Connor Neville is lighting it up for Wilsonville (Ore.) through three games this year, completing 62-of-104 passes for 1,082 yards and 15 touchdowns through three games. You can see his early season highlights below.