Now spring practice has come and gone we can reflect on how WSU’s offseason has gone so far. Let’s look at the good, the bad, and what WSU still needs to do over the summer.
The receiving corps stepped up
Going into the off-season Cougar fans were very concerned about having to replace Gabe Marks and River Cracraft. While after spring practice folks should be feeling much better. Tavares Martin looks to be emerging as an All-Conference level player on the outside while Dezmon Patton looks like he could step up as a big-time player on the other side. On the inside veteran Robert Lewis and redshirt freshman Renard Bell looked very solid and Kyle Sweet appears to be regaining some of the form he showed as freshman. The depth looks good with JC transfer Easop Winton impressing and Isaiah Johnson-Mack continuing make strides. Plus the Cougars will welcome impressive recruits Jamire Calvin and Travell Harris in the fall.
The Cougars are extremely deep and athletic in the back seven
One of the most impressive aspects of the Mike Leach era is how many top athletes he has brought in. Most of them seem to finding their way to the back seven. Alex Grinch has a cornicopa of players to create mis-matches. Unicorns like Dylan Hanser and Logan Tago at the rush end, big hitters like Frankie Luvu, Peyton Pelluer and Issac Dotson inside and explosive athletes like D’Jimon Jones and Justus Rogers should give Grinch the weapons he needs to wreak havoc. Add to that a deep group of corners and up and coming safeties like Jalen Thompson and Robert Taylor and the Cougars should be a lot of to watch.
Landed a big recruit from Spokane
Mike Leach hasn’t had great luck recruiting in the Lilac City so far, with recruits such Brett Rypien escaping the Cougar’s grasp. But he sure came up big the spring landing a verbal from East Valley’s Roderick Fisher. While he still hasn’t signed on the dotted line, the track star choosing the Cougars is hopefully the start of great things to come from the Inland Empire. It would be great if the Cougars could get back to the days when Spokane kids like Steve Gleason, Jeremy Williams and Travis Long were choosing to stay home over other big-time offers.
Nose tackle is still a big question mark
The most apparent weakness of the off-season was at the nose tackle position. Daniel Ekuale is a good player, but is lacking size for the position. Ngalu Tapa does have the size required but has struggled with conditioning and grades. It would be shame if all the athleticism on the Cougar defense goes to waste because they get physically dominated at the point of attack. Maybe the quickness on the line will make up for it, but it remains a big question.
Right guard did turn out as expected
Cougar fans had high hopes for 4 star JC recruit Robert Valencia coming into spring. However Valencia was not very impressive and could not beat out 5th year senior BJ Salmonson. Cougar fans have to hope that it is simply that Salmonson has really improved and that Valencia will continue to make strides as he gets acclimated to Power 5 football.
Recruiting still has not wrapped up for the 2017 class
Two Cougar recruits Kelle Sanders and Dante Powell did not sign LOI’s due to apparent qualifying issues. We still have not heard either of them will make to Pullman and WSU has used their spots on any other recruits yet. Something to watch over the summer.
Lock up quarterback recruit for 2018
The Cougars have zeroed in on top prep signal-callers Camm Cooper, Brevin White, and Tyler Shough. Hopefully one of them will go Crimson soon, as it is very important to have your signal-caller locked up early in the current world of quarterback recruiting. My prediction is that Cooper will be the one to pull the trigger, but we will have to see.
Three offseason questions: Washington State Cougars - Pac-12 Blog- ESPN
Washington State enters 2017 with more expectations than normal, but just like anyone else, the Cougars have questions, too. Here are the top three.