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WSU finishes early signing day with 19 players in the fold

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It included a couple of surprises!

NCAA Football: Washington State at Southern California Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars had an eventful 2020 early signing day, inking 19 players to national letters of intent. Seventeen of those were expected, but two were not — including one who slots in as the third-ranked recruit in the class.

Florida linebacker Gavin Barthiel had been a longtime commit for Georgia Tech until a couple of weeks ago, and he finally pulled the trigger on the Cougs yesterday, seemingly out of nowhere. He’s rated as an upper 3-star recruit, and is an exciting prospect — he’s big, physical and fast:

There were a couple of other surprises. One was a signing from receiver from Hawaii, De’zhaun Stribling, a member of the 2020 class with whom Nick Rolovich was assuredly familiar, given his time on the islands.

The other surprise — given that the early signing day has basically become the signing day — is that receiver Tsion Nunnally, who has been committed to WSU since July, didn’t sign. Cougfan.com alluded to that decision in a premium message board post on Tuesday night; as of now, he hasn’t publicly decommitted.

There are six spots remaining in this class, which is already heavy on front-six players in Jake Dickert’s 4-2-5 scheme — roughly half of the players signed (nine) project as defensive linemen or linebackers.

“You can see it, it starts up front and that was the emphasis the whole way,” Dickert said on WSU’s National Signing Day show Wednesday morning. “That’s going to be the emphasis going forward, and that’s going to be the emphasis in this defense for eternity. Our big emphasis there is to grow them, find athletes, find edge rushers that can have athletic ability, find guys that maybe played linebacker that can slide down.”

It’s noticeably light on offensive linemen, a position that WSU has typically stocked up on, but that makes sense, given the added year of eligibility for everyone on the roster and the plethora of options that already are there. There are also only two defensive backs who signed, but WSU went heavy on that position a year ago.

The one glaring omission is running back, where WSU is currently thin on the roster. Deon McIntosh has carried virtually the entire load this season while Max Borghi has been out with an injury; Jouvensly Bazil is the only other recruited running back for WSU. Rolovich indicated yesterday that they do intend to find one in this class.

As for the rest of it? Rolovich is taking a wait-and-see approach with who becomes available, particularly via the transfer portal. There certainly will be some guys in there who would be able to make an immediate impact at a place like WSU, and the NCAA has given off signals that it intends to allow transfers to play immediately next season.

The Cougars’ class currently ranks 57th nationally via 247 Sports, and 8th in the Pac-12. However, it’s worth noting that WSU’s 19 signings is among the most in the conference; Stanford is currently 10th with 14 commits and Oregon State is 12th with just eight. However, Stanford actually signed 20 guys yesterday, and Oregon State signed 11, so ... who knows what’s accurate at this point.

Links

Signing Day Central - wsucougars.com
Wednesday, December 16: Signing Day for Washington State University Cougars Football

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