Cougar 2013 class roundtable with 3 experts

THE FAX MACHINES (yes, they still use fax machines!) won't get rolling until morning, but tea leaves on WSU's next class of recruits are already floating into position for three West Coast recruiting experts. In a roundtable discussion, Brandon Huffman and Jake Worthen of Scout.com and Barry Bolton of CF.C offer up their picks for sleepers, immediate contributors and more for the 2013 Wazzu crop.

1. Who do you think is the biggest sleeper in the class and why?

Huffman: It's hard to call Jacob Seydel a sleeper, when plenty of schools knew about him, but even after he left UCLA shortly after arriving and ended up back at Riverside CC, he was still under the radar. The Cougars are getting a Pac-12 ready lineman in Seydel, who's really blossomed while at Riverside CC and can become a starter in Pullman sooner rather than later.

Worthen: I know I have stated it many times on the message boards, but my sleeper is Cole Madison . Even though Madison says the coaches see him at inside receiver or defensive end, I think he will end up as an offensive lineman. I think Madison has all of the tools to be a dominant guard and even the potential to play tackle. He can play defensive end, but I see him as a low 3-star prospect at that spot. If he heads to the trenches on offense he has a much higher ceiling.

Bolton: There's a legit half dozen guys you can peg as sleeper/surprise types in the class but for purposes of this article, I'll tab Darius Lemora, the safety out of Port Arthur, Texas. If he hadn't broken his leg his junior season, he would have nabbed a boatload more offers and by big programs closer to home -- and might not have come Wazzu's way. He can really move, has great instincts. Pair him with a sage defensive secondary coach like Mike Breske and it's not hard at all to see him developing into an awfully good Pac-12 defensive back.

2. Who do you foresee making impact on Day One?

Huffman: I think Paulo Lepua will have the best chance to get on the field early. His motor and strength, and how much he progressed and really took that next step this year, is what will get him on the field. His best football is ahead of him and he's already starting to approach it.

Worthen: Wide receiver River Cracraft. Leach has shown a willingness to play receivers early. Cracraft has very dependable hands and is a solid route runner. If he can get himself to the right spots and catch the ball, I see him getting early playing time.

Bolton: Vince Mayle, the JC receiver. He's big, he's physical, and he can run. He's also mature. I really like this young man. His story is a bit like Chris Jackson's from WSU's 1998 Rose Bowl team – a super athletic guy who was a JC basketball player. In high school, he was a running back and linebacker, so this past season was his first at receiver -- and he caught 61 passes for close to 1,000 yards. A tall, physical wideout is such a bonus in college football today, they can cause more problems for a defense than does elite receiver speed -- and Mayle looks like he's going to cause defenses a lot of problems the next few years.

3. How does the class stack up with the rest of the Pac-12?

Huffman: The Pac-12 as a whole is recruiting fairly well, and WSU is going to have a top 10 class in the conference, which given the tight bunch of schools, is still pretty good.

Worthen: Well see exactly what number Washington State ends up at in our rankings, but I think they have the 10th best class. Stanford is behind them on our point scale, but the Card are bringing in just 12 players –very talented ones, I might add. I think the Cougars are ahead of the new conference schools Colorado and Utah, even if they don't pass Utah in points. The Pac-12 is having a huge recruiting year, so being 10th still means you are around 40th in the country. Washington State was in on much bigger names this year, but to start winning some of those battles they will need to win more on the field.

Bolton: The Pac-12 currently has five schools ranked by Scout.com in the national top 25 and then another four between Arizona State at 26 and WSU at 39, so the conference is very competitive. When you're talking about such a slight margin, the bigger issue for me is whether WSU addressed its needs. Based on what we think will happen on Wednesday, I think they've done that. Another key point in assessing this WSU class is who all the Cougs competed with for their athletes. There are a number of Nevadas, Colorado States and so on, but there are far more Washingtons, Oregons, Oregon States, Utahs and Arizona States on the list, plus an Arkansas and Texas Tech and a few others. That's where Cougar recruiting needs to be.

4. How does this class stack up against other Cougar classes?

Huffman: This is one of the better classes I've seen from WSU in some time. They addressed needs, they hit some good schools and players, and spread out the class.

Worthen: This class is better than it has been in a couple years, I really notice a difference in the overall speed and size of prospects. I think this class really fits some of the needs this roster has as well. Most notably getting a big time quarterback for the future.

Bolton: I hate to answer that because no legitimate answer can be known for at least two or three years. But in looking at film and talking to prep and JC coaches, I think the Cougars have one of their more athletic classes, top to bottom, than any in recent years.

2013 COUGAR VERBALS


For the complete recruiting class list, CLICK HERE.

And for a look at the prospects who could join them in the class, CLICK HERE.
5. Other thoughts and observations about the class?

Huffman: For a guy who's known for throwing the ball, and has an unfair rep for being allergic to the running game, I think Mike Leach is showing he knows the importance of a strong running game by bringing in the three prep backs, plus Arizona transfer .

Worthen: Leach has definitely recruited Washington and the state of California like previous coaches. However, he has shown he will go anywhere to get a prospect. Two signees will hail from American Samoa, three from Texas, one from Oklahoma, and one from Alabama, all of which are not traditional Pac-12 recruiting grounds. This makes the class much harder to evaluate for a West Coast Analyst like myself. In past years I would say I had seen a large majority of the class play live, but I haven't seen many of these guys. It makes this class more of a mystery, we will see.

Bolton: I like that Washington State under Leach has set, in granite, their talent bar. WSU could have easily taken 4-5 more guys over the last couple weeks, done a little more grayshirting, taken a few guys who likely had little hope of qualifying.. But over the last month-plus, they instead settled on a small group and when they didn't go crimson, WSU stuck to their guns. They didn't go below their talent bar and gamble, taking a flyer on Pac-12 reach types of guys. They also had some prospects they could have waited on but when those guys wanted to keep playing the field, they cut them loose. Because of what he already had in the cupboard, Leach had the luxury to move on when they couldn't make up their minds by a certain point - a point that took a long time in coming. That to me is a sign of a well-oiled recruiting machine running smoothly over the course of the last year-plus.

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