A signing day in the books with no bad surprises for Washington State. That’s a very, very good thing.
With national letters of intent all stacked neatly next to a fax machine in a Bohler Gym office, head coach Mike Leach was happy with the 25 players they had signed today and earlier this recruiting season.
“We wanted to emphasize as much speed on defense, and playmakers on offense,” said Leach at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
Before the sun even came up, the Cougs got a nice surprise in the form of Travell Harris, a wide receiver out of Tampa. Wide receiver had been an area of concern in this class with just three verbally committed in the lead up to signing day so Harris’ early morning decision helped things nicely.
Then, just after lunch, a bigger one: four-star wide out Jamire Calvin flipped from Nebraska and signed on the dotted line with WSU. There had been some thought in the last few days that the one time Oregon State commit could be heading to Pullman instead of Lincoln and, apparently, Leach found out when we did.
“When he signed the papers,” Leach said. “We had a good dialogue with him for the beginning. We were fortunate he came here but I think Coach Manning, myself, our receiver coaches and I think just cumulatively (seeing) what we’ve done with the receiver position, who we have at quarterback, academically; ultimately I think that’s what made the difference.
“We believe we’re the best fit. You rattle off any of the schools he had to choose from and I can’t for the life of me see why they’d be a better option than here if you’re a wide receiver considering who is throwing to you ... it makes a great deal of sense.”
Quarterback is always a position you try to get a commitment from early on and nowhere is that more true than at Washington State. When about 70 percent of your plays will come through the air, Leach likes to nail down who his signal caller will be in each class early.
This year’s was no exception. Connor Neville committed back in April after Leach says the Wilsonville, Ore. product caught their eye for the first time the year before.
“Good feet, good arm, gets bigger every time I see him,” said Leach. “First camp he came to here was two years ago and I think that’s when he got on our radar.”
One glaring omission from this class: no defensive tackle for the second year in a row. Add to that your defensive line coach departing, who was also responsible for recruiting American Samoa, and it leaves WSU with a bit of a dilemma going forward.
Coaching wise, Mike Leach believes the team is in good shape with Jeff Phelps, who only made two stops at Minnesota and Northern Illinois in the last decade. Recruiting the islands wise? They aren’t sure yet.
“We hired a great coach who I think is a great coach and one of the best technicians in the country,” said Leach. “We’ll keep recruiting the islands and we have a good core group of players here with regard to this year. We haven’t fully decided who we’re going to send (to the Islands).”
Leach also mentioned during his presser that Logan Tago remains on the team despite his indefinite suspension after pleading guilty to a felony assault charge. As for his status going forward, Leach said they would handle that “internally”.
Leach also confirmed wide receiver Kyrin Priester is back practicing with the team. He noted that he’s not positive how to “describe the circumstances” of Priester’s return, only saying he’s on scholarship and is trying to “fight his way onto the depth chart.”