Defensive tackle recruiting is a source of perpetual anxiety for Washington State Cougars fans, as it’s been a real struggle over the last few years to land big bodies on that side of the ball.
Those anxieties came to roost again today when Dejon Benton — the only defensive tackle in the Cougs’ 2019 class — flipped to the USC Trojans, signing with them after receiving a late offer on Wednesday.
Benton had been committed to WSU since early November, choosing the Cougs over the Arizona Wildcats. But it took him about five weeks from his official visit to pull the trigger, and he also made it be known that he wouldn’t be signing with WSU in the early period — all indications that he was probably still fishing for a bigger offer, so this shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
That doesn’t make it sting any less, though. Benton was, at one time, one of two interior defensive linemen committed, but Nassir Sims decommitted a couple of weeks ago in a move that sure seemed a lot like he had his offer pulled.
Now, WSU is left with zero defensive tackle recruits in the 2019 class. The situation isn’t dire; you can bet the staff knew there was a chance Benton would be heading elsewhere, and there’s still six weeks between now and the regular signing period. Additionally, there are defensive tackles on the roster, notably West Virginia Mountaineers transfer Lamonte McDougal, who will be counted on heavily.
This flip isn’t going to make or break the defense next season, but man — it sure gets old to perpetually wonder how WSU is going to piece together its defensive line.
This situation probably will remind some of you of when Deontay Burnett flipped from WSU to USC on signing day 2015. That was a blueshirt situation, where an “unrecruited” player signs and then can count against the following year’s initial scholarship count. There are indications that’s possibly the case for Benton, too. Burnett, of course, went on to be a wildly productive receiver for the Trojans.