Thomas Toki became Washington State's first 2015 commitment when he gave his verbal pledge on Christmas Eve last year. The 4-star defensive tackle was thought to be a major coup for Mike Leach and his staff. Quite a bit has changed since Toki committed, but he still remains one of the top prospects on the West Coast and committed to the Cougars.
The biggest change is location. When Toki committed, he was attending Juanita High School in Kirkland, Washington. He was one of the top prospects in the state. He's no longer one of the top prospects in Washington, but that's because he moved to California and now attends St. Francis High School. Toki has drawn considerable interest in recent months, with UCLA making a serious push. He visited the Bruins at at one point said he was "starting to rethink my recruiting process" according to Rivals. That was in early March and while some may consider him to be a soft commitment, he is still committed to WSU.
With Toki being one of the higher-ranked prospects in the 2015 class, he gets a little more attention. That includes a dedicated scouting report from SB Nation recruiting analyst and editor Bud Elliott. Elliott follows recruiting probably as close as anyone on the planet. He travels to camps, interviews players and is a great, reliable source of information. When it comes to Toki, Elliot praised his burst and strength, projecting him as a one-gap nose tackle at the college level:
Toki has good burst -- he's often the first defensive lineman to come out of his stance and initiate contact with opposing linemen. At times, he gets a bit high and leaves his upper body exposed. A lot of this seems to be a function of him attempting to side-step the center and get into the A-gap.
WSU is handing out offers right and left
WSU has been aggressive on the recruiting trail, and we can now see just how aggressive and where the Cougars are channeling their energy.
That burst is a big part of Toki's game and allows him to get into the backfield quickly and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. While he can cause havoc in the interior, Elliott said Toki has some trouble changing direction and doesn't expect him to make a lot of plays outside the box. He's an interior clogging nose tackle, don't expect him to be running down Oregon running backs along the line of scrimmage.
At 5-foot-11 and 308 pounds, Toki already has the size to play at the next level. He may also already have the strength to hold his own:
Toki has explosive strength. Often time on tape you see him jolting blockers with his initial punch. Although he has very active hands, at times would like to see him transition into counter moves a bit quicker. He uses an assortment of rip, club, and swim moves to defeat blockers off the snap. I'd just like to see him activate his counter-moves a bit quicker instead of getting hung up on blockers who are able to withstand his initial power.
Finding stout interior lineman can be one of the biggest challenges in college football recruiting. Even if he has work to do and needs to refine some technique, Toki would likely be in line to play right away at WSU, especially with Toni Pole entering his senior season. Toki's status leading up to February will be one of the big recruiting story lines to watch. If you missed it when he committed, here are his Hudl highlights.