The Washington State Cougars will secure the first portion of their 2020 recruiting class today as the early signing period opens for prospective players to send in their national letters of intent — a commitment that binds the player and the school together for at least the next year.
The Cougs enter the day with 18 known commitments after suffering a pair of decommitments in the past week; they can sign a maximum of 25 players in any recruiting class.
The day figures to be light on unexpected news, but WSU is involved in one so-called “hat dance” today: New Mexico receiver Connor O’Toole will be announcing his decision. He’s 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds and would be the Cougs’ second-highest rated recruit, but 247Sports predicts he’s headed to either the Utah Utes or Baylor Bears as a tight end. It would be a surprise if he elected for the Air Raid, but you never know!
Additionally, WSU had a couple of surprise junior college signings last year on the early signing day, so we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled.
The class as it stands is headlined by Hawaiian quarterback Jayden de Laura, who entered his senior season without a lot of buzz but proceeded to lead powerhouse Saint Louis High School to No. 6 in the USA Today national high school football rankings. After he committed to the Cougars in early October, he picked up some interest from some blue bloods — both the USC Trojans and Ohio State Buckeyes offered, but he’s expected to sign with WSU today.
De Laura brings an interesting dimension to the position that we haven’t really seen from a WSU quarterback under Leach: He’s a pretty exceptional runner. At 6-foot-1 and 190, he’s smaller than most of the QBs Leach has recruited, which means he’ll remind you most of Gardner Minshew II — but faster.
Track all of today’s signings below. We’ll update these lists as the letters roll in.
Letter of Intent Received
Star rating reflects 247 Sports’ composite ranking, unless otherwise noted.
- Nathaniel James, DL | ✯✯✯ | 6-0/250 | Avon, Indiana
-James is a high-motor, high-energy defensive lineman. Great get-off at the snap and quick hands. A bit small to project to Nose, and may not have the frame to get a whole lot bigger. Has the potential to be a terror at Tackle or End.
- Justin Lohrenz, DL | ✯✯✯ | 6-4/230 | Littleton, Colorado
-Lohrenz comes ready-made with an array of pass rushing moves packed into a long, athletic frame. He has the size to move inside, but with his skill set his best position should be anywhere he can chase down quarterbacks.
- Dylan Mayginnes, OL | ✯✯✯ | 6-5/285 | Chandler, Arizona
-Mayginnes does his best work in the run game, where he’s good at maintaining blocks through the end of the play. Good balance when he pass sets. Prototypical size and frame for a Leach OL recruit.
- Hunter Escorcia, DB | ✯✯✯ | 6-2/175 | Murrieta, California
-Escorcia is a hard-hitting safety, gives good support in the running game and can fit off the edge as force. Backs that up with high-end speed; ran a 14.6 in the 110 hurdles in high school. Quick hips and plays the ball well in the air. Projects best to Strong or Nickel.
- Marshawn Buchanan, RB | ✯✯✯ | 5-11/178 | Adelanto, California
-Buchanan is fast. Highlights consist of him consistently running away from defenders in the open field. Quick, decisive cuts to and through the hole. Can also contribute on special teams as a returner.
- Devin Kylany, OL | ✯✯✯ | 6-4/275 | Lake Stevens, Washington
-Kylany is an athletic offensive lineman. Has good feet coming off the line of scrimmage and had the ability to pull across formation from the tackle position. Size and speed will allow him to play either guard or tackle.
- Keyshawn Smith, WR | ✯✯✯ | 6-0/165 | San Diego, California
-Smith played outside receiver through high school, and he was at his best going after contested balls in the air. Very smooth stride when he hits top speed. Should project to the outside at the next level.
- Moon Ashby, LB | ✯✯✯ | 6-4/200 | San Jose, California
-Ashby is a rangy linebacker, reads through the clutter at the line well and is explosive to point of contact. Lined up as a stand-up edge rusher and also showed the ability to drop into coverage. Likely to compete at RUSH.
- Justin Anderson, DB | ✯✯✯ | 6-1/175 | Menlo Park, California
-Anderson is strong in zone coverage at corner. Breaks on the ball well and is a hawk when the ball is in the air. Good hip turn and recovery on breaks to the receiver. Uses his length to undercut receivers in man coverage.
- James McNorton, OL | ✯✯✯ | 6-5/265 | Brentwood, California
-McNorton plays with a low center of gravity despite his height. Consistently able to drop pad level to get into the chest of defenders and drive them off the line. Low center allows for good balance in pass protection. Punishing blocker at point of contact.
- Julian Ripley, OL | ✯✯✯ | 6-6/245 | Rancho Cucamonga, California
-Ripley has long arms and a big frame that should translate into playing tackle at the next level. Shows ability to get out in front of receivers on wide screens. Uses length well to keep pass rushers out of frame of body.
- Rodrick Tialavea, OL | ✯✯✯ | 6-5/315 | Salt Lake City, Utah
-Tialavea has compact, powerful frame and his strength is generated from his lower body. Doesn’t block so much as hit defenders. Played on the interior in high school and likely projects to guard or center at the next level.
- Cedrick Pellum, WR | ✯✯✯ | 5-11/174 | Dallas, Texas
-Pellum played outside receiver during his high school career and was at his best taking screens and turning them into long runs and touchdowns. Plays bigger than his listed height. May project to inside with his ability to slip defenders.
- Jackson Lataimua, DB | ✯✯✯ | 5-11/195 | San Bruno, California
-Lataimua is an aggressive, downhill safety that is a sure tackler and big hitter. Played a rolled up safety in high school, very similar to what WSU’s Nickel defender plays. Great off the edge as a blitzer, disruptive at all three levels of the defense.
- Joey Hobert, WR | ✯✯✯ | 5-11/175 | San Juan Capistrano, California
-Hobert played all over the field during his high school career. Very difficult to bring down once the ball is in his hands. Great ball skills. Good speed in the open field. Projects to inside receiver with his hands and ability to make defenders miss.
- Jayden de Laura, QB | ✯✯✯✯ (per Rivals) | 6-1/190 | Honolulu, Hawaii
-de Laura may be the most athletic quarterback Mike Leach has recruited, in addition to having an arm that can make all the throws needed to thrive in the Air Raid. Throws well on the move, can scramble and avoid clutter in the pocket. Delivers a very catchable deep ball.
- Marquise Freeman, DL | ✯✯✯ | 6-3/185 | Cocoa Beach, Florida
-Freeman was uncommitted coming into signing day, but had interest from all over the country. Long and lean, the edge rusher uses his quickness and long frame to beat linemen around the edge. Will play on the edge at RUSH, or potentially End with some time in the weight room.
- Gabriel Lopez, DL | ✯✯✯ | 6-3/227 | Las Vegas, Nevada
-Lopez fits the mold of RUSH linebackers we’ve seen come through the Palouse recently. Has a quick inside move to shed blocks and attack the quarterback. Very explosive off the line and plays through tackles.
Links direct you to their CougCenter profile, which includes video
- Johnny Walker, DL | ✯✯✯ | 6-3/205 | Tampa, Florida (uncommitted)