Securing a verbal commitment from a quarterback is often one of the first priorities of a recruiting class. WSU landed it's 2015 quarterback in late April when 4-star prospect Tyler Hilinksi verbally committed. At the time, Hilinski's only other offer was from Utah State. That changed on Monday when California offered the WSU commit, according to Adam Gorney.
Another school offering a verbally committed player isn't uncommon and usually isn't very newsworthy. Things change, however, when it's a quarterback. Quarterback prospects came off the board quickly this year with WSU missing out on Brett Rypien before landing Hilinski. Cal missed out on Josh Rose, Jake Browning and Brady White -- who also had a WSU offer -- and is now turning its attention to Hilinski.
So is this cause for concern for WSU or simply a futile last-ditch effort by Cal? There have been no indications Hilinski is anything but a solid commit, yet the Cougars may sweat a little on this one. Hilinski was very high on Cal prior to committing to WSU, according to Britton Ransford of WazzuWatch ($) and he said good things about the Bears after visiting last season.
"It was awesome -- they just did a bunch of new things with the facilities, they just redid the stadium -- they're really high technologically. They're advanced," Hilinski said in November, via Rivals.
Hilinski is a California kid and as we learned with Chandler Leniu, the draw of playing closer to home can be a strong pull. The Bears have excellent facilities and a newly remodeled Memorial Stadium. Still, you can make a very strong argument that WSU is the more attractive option. The Cougars will open a brand-new football operations building later this month and are coming off their first appearance in a bowl game in more than a decade. Mike Leach is probably as secure as any coach in the country. While Cal has great facilities, the Bears are coming off a 1-11 season and are in the very early stages of a major rebuilding project. The Bears also lost a ton of talent to the NFL, so it may get worse before it gets better. Sonny Dykes is entering his second season and is already drawing hot seat talk. The Bears fired two assistant coaches and reassigned defensive coordinator Andy Buh to a non-coaching position in the athletic department. As we saw with Paul Wulff, shuffling assistant coaches is often just a temporary band aid before wholesale changes.
Hilinski was high on Cal's offense during his visit, noting the amount of times Jared Goff and the Bears throw the ball.
"It seems like Cal throws the ball about 50 times a game, that's like a quarterback's dream to throw it 50 times a game," Hilinski said.
Cal did indeed throw the ball more than 51 times per game. The good news for WSU, the Cougars threw the ball more than 58 times per game. Goff is coming off his freshman season and could become a four-year starter for the Bears. WSU, on the other hand, will be looking for a new starting quarterback next season. The various variables and the fact Hilinski is already committed appear to bode well for WSU, but with recruiting you never know until they sign in February.
There is quite a bit hinging on Hilinski remaining committed. For one, the quarterback market has been picked over severely. There is another element here though with safety Kameron Powell -- Hilinski's high school teammate -- possibly involved. Powell committed to WSU not long after Hilinski did and cited the relationship with the quarterback as one of his reasons for picking the Cougars. If Hilinski were to flip, WSU might be in danger of losing Powell too, especially if Cal were to also offer.
Recruiting a top quarterback can be a little like a game of musical chairs. There are only so many top players to go around. Right now Cal is left scrambling with no seat and has become that guy who didn't get a seat, so he tries to knock other people off their chair. Hopefully, WSU fares better than this guy.
EDIT: Hilinski says it changes nothing, for whatever you think that's worth.
Just got a text from QB Tyler Hilinski "Cal offer doesn't change anything. As committed as it gets to Washington St and the staff."— Braulio Perez (@BraulioEPerez) May 22, 2014