Cougs' 2008 class surprisingly productive

THREE YEARS AGO tomorrow, Paul Wulff became head coach at Washington State, triggering a frenetic sprint by the new man and his staff to put together an entire recruiting class in just seven weeks. Wulff & Co. inherited but three verbals in the class – Jared Karstetter, Dan Spitz and Tom Hodgdon – and were coming up fast on the recruiting dead periods around the holidays.

They wound up signing 25 players. Today, three years later, the question begs: How'd a class put together in virtually no time at all actually pan out?

Granted, there are no All-Americans here, but the report card is surprisingly good.

"I'd say the output from this class far exceeds what could realistically have been expected -- consider how many guys were no longer available, having verballed months ago, when Wulff came on board," says CF.C recruiting analyst emeritus Jack Evans.

"When you factor in the dead periods, these coaches really only had maybe four weeks to pull this group together. So what you saw was head-to-head battles with schools like Portland State, UC-Davis -- schools you don't compete against for talent. So you'd expect that tier of athletes to turn into a bunch of special teams performers at this level but not much more -- only two in the entire class, Cory Mackay and Bernard Wolfgramm, had offers from other Pac-10 schools," added Evans.

"But Wulff and his staff really did a better than expected job with the 2008 class given they had not time to do it. I don't think anyone would have blinked if this class had turned into a completely lost cause, but it's not that by any stretch. This is a fairly athletic and productive group."

In fact, three members of the class were this week named honorable mention All-Pac-10 performers: receiver Jared Karstetter, safety Tyree Toomer and center Zack Williams.

Two others (cornerback Daniel Simmons and defensive tackle Bernard Wolfgramm ) were full-time starters this season, as was linebacker Myron Beck, who joined the '08 class as a walk on and later earned a scholie.

Four more were part-time starters (defensive tackle Anthony Laurenzi, linebacker Mike Ledgerwood and tight ends Skylar Stormo and Andrei Lintz) this season. Plus there was senior back Chantz Staden, a good utility man coming off a knee injury in 2009. In 2010, he rushed some, caught some and returned some.

That's 11 (not counting Beck because he was a walk on) out of 25 signees in the class who proved their mettle.

Now factor in linebacker Louis Bland and offensive tackle Alex Reitnouer -- two guys who played a ton in 2009, redshirted this season, and will be back in action in 2011 – and you're at 13 out of 25 guys who have made or are making some waves for the Cougs.

There are another five guys on which the jury is still out. Through some various combination of redshirting, grayshirting, injury, off-field problems and need to gain weight, they haven't emerged. At least not yet. They are linemen Hodgdon and Dan Spitz, defensive backs Jay Matthews and Terrance Hayward, and defensive end Adam Coerper.

That boosts the list to 18 out of 25 who are present and accounted for.

Two more members of the class were claimed by heartbreak. They were perhaps the most promising athletes of the 2008 recruiting cycle -- defensive back LeAndre Daniels and defensive end Cory Mackay -- but had their careers ended prematurely. Daniels sustained a freak neck injury in practice and Mackay was paralyzed in a car accident. Both are still at WSU.

That leaves six players out of 25 who didn't pan out:
  • Quarterback Calvin Schmitke was released from his Letter of Intent before he even set foot on campus due to a host of run-ins with the law. He then signed with Indiana State and washed out there as well.
  • Wide receiver Kevin Norrell, one of the Cougs' top returing skill players at the time, was suspended for the 2009 season after a run-in with the law and then left WSU for good prior to the 2010 campaign. He wound up at El Camino JC, where he had 23 catches for 419 yards and one touchdown this past season.
  • Receiver Michael Vandenkolk redshirted as freshman and then transferred, last word was his plan was to go to UNLV or San Diego State but the trail has run dry.
  • JC defensive tackle Josh Luapo started two games in 2009 before going down with a knee injury and then was lost last summer to academic woes.
  • JC defensive end Jessy Sanchez was dogged by injuries throughout and left the team this past summer but is believed to still be in school at WSU.
  • Defensive back Kevin Frank redshirted as a freshman and then left the program following a run-in with the law.

    "As averages go, Wulff and his staff did pretty well for themselves in 2008," said Evans. "The attrition has been minimal, which is critical to a program depleted by disastrous recruiting results in 2004, '05, '06, '07. This is no class of superstars, but they are a very solid foundation to build on. I tip my hat to Wulff and his staff on what they were able to do with so little time, and with such a small starting pool to begin with."

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