Wulff breaks down his new class of Cougs

WASHINGTON STATE COACH Paul Wulff said upgrading the depth and talent on both the offensive and defensive lines was a priority in this recruiting class. He also gave a breakdown on each signing, examined the depth at running back, which could include James Montgomery, the recruitment of Curtis standout Rahmel Dockery and much more.

Washington State coach Paul Wulff said he has not deviated from his plan for the program.

He ideally would like to sign a class that consists predominantly of high-school players and redshirt the majority of them.

But Wulff said during his Letter-of-Intent Day teleconference Wednesday that a lack of depth at most positions did not allow him to do that last season. He said that will not be as significant of an issue this year, but he did recruit heavily on the offensive and defensive lines to address depth issues there.

AND THE COUGARS are not finished in that regard. Wulff said the Cougars could add more linemen, which he said again will be a priority in the 2012 signing class, anywhere from immediately to the next couple of months. One prospect, Montclair Prep's Stephan Nembot, initially committed to WSU before switching to Washington. But Nembot is expected to make a final decision between the two Evergreen state schools and Colorado at announcement scheduled for 5 p.m. While not mentioning Nembot by name, Wulff seemed to indicate he did not anticipate him signing with the program, UW, that many expect.

Regardless of where Nembot or others sign, Wulff called it "a quality class."

"A lot of times when you sign a lot of linemen versus skill players, it doesn't look as flashy," he said.

Wulff said he does not anticipate playing as many true freshmen as last season, but added that some will be needed. He said as many as eight first-year players, between high-school and junior-college transfers, could see the field immediately. Many of those could be on the lines, but there could be exceptions. He cited Curtis wide receiver Rahmel Dockery and linebacker Chester Su'a from Honolulu as possible exceptions (see chart below for Wulff's comments on each signing).

He said this is the first class where the coaching staff specifically has been able to target players they felt could redshirt because of the program's depth at the position. That includes junior-college transfers on the offensive line as Wulff said he hopes to add experience at those positions when linemen such as David Gonzales, Wade Jacobson and Andrew Roxas graduate. Redshirting some of the incoming junior-college transfers allows them to adapt to the program before playing the next two seasons, Wulff said. One example of that was Zack Williams, who redshirted in 2008 before starting the next two seasons.

Wulff also said the Cougars' focus on linemen was a contributing factor in the small number of in-state signings. He said it was a poor year for linemen on the West Coast. As of 2 p.m., WSU's Evergreen State signings were restricted to a small Pierce County footprint. Dockery and Max Hersey are from Curtis, while Tana Pritchard signed out of Clover Park in nearby Lakewood.

THAT NUMBER WAS hindered by the defection of Spokane running back Bishop Sankey, who signed with UW. Wulff did not mention him by name, but said "the local (defection) was not a surprise." He said the only surprise came from a recent defection from California, presumably lineman Brandon Tuliaupupu who bolted for UCLA.

Wulff said an early signing period would curtail much of that as said coaches who preach the importance of accountability and integrity need to practice it on the recruiting side.

"I just think we're sending a really bad message," he said. "These coaches are telling players before they get to their program that their word doesn't mean anything. It's hypocritical."

Wulff said most of the recruits stuck to their word. He noted the number of early commitments, particularly those coming from the Orlando, Fla., area, where the Cougars signed four players. Wulff said it started with a connection legendary WSU quarterback Mark Rypien had with a high-school coach in that area. He said it was enhanced because there are several rural areas surrounding Orlando, which made those players comfortable with coming to Pullman.

"Those kids came here with their parents and absolutely fell in love with the place," Wulff said.

Some other recruits and their parents expressed concern about Wulff's job security. In three seasons at WSU, Wulff has a 5-32 record.

"Kids asked about it and it is something you have to overcome," he said. "It does weigh very heavily on kids and parents minds."

"It's fueled by coaches. When you tell them what I've had to overcome ... they get it. They understand why we weren't very good. That really alleviated a lot of the negative recruiting that was targeted toward us."

In a few other program notes, Wulff said he would like to sign another running back, but anticipates strong competition between Rickey Galvin, whom he said now is weight lifting after breaking his right arm on his first collegiate carry on Sept. 4 at Oklahoma State, and senior Logwone Mitz. Wulff said he also is more confident that James Montgomery will be granted a sixth-year of eligibility after having surgery to correct acute compartment syndrome in his left leg in 2009. He said incoming freshman Marcus Mason also will compete for the starting position.

Wulff confirmed that Devontae Butler-Booker, who signed with the Cougars last February, will head to Fresno State. He said that Butler-Booker still has a lot of work to accomplish to qualify, though.

Wulff also wants to improve the kickoff and punt return units and said "explosive" players such as Blair Bomber, Henry Eaddy and Dockery all will have opportunities to play on those units.

He also was asked about Malik Roberson's status as the team's defensive-line coach. It's been widely reported he would not return this season.

"There's been no announcement on that," Wulff said.

2011 SIGNING CLASS:

  • Cody Clements, quarterback, Whittier, Calif.: WSU's coaching staff felt starting quarterback Jeff Tuel was an overlooked talent in 2009 out of Fresno, Calif., and believe the 6-foot-2 Clements is the same. He said he looks bigger in person than one game tape.

    "He's athletic, extremely tough and a high-end competitor," Wulff said. "I think he's going to be kind of the hidden gem in this class. He's going to force the issue with the quarterbacks in this program."

  • David Davis, defensive line, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.: Wulff noted that Davis has strong bloodlines, as his grandfather is Willie Davis, a Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end who starred for the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s.

    "He's very thick player," Wulff said. "He's going to create a lot of strength for us in our defensive line. You can't get enough young defensive line."

  • Rahmel Dockery, wide receiver, Tacoma: Wulff said the staff did not know whether Dockery would commit to his program or Oregon State until his signing-day party at Curtis. He said Dockery did not call before to let him know, but was excited to hear the news.

    "He's one of those flashy, explosive players," Wulff said. "We anticipate him helping right away. We're starting to collect some explosive players in the program."

  • Henry Eaddy, wide receiver, Orlando, Fla.: Wulff has said since he became WSU's coach after the 2007 season that team speed needed to improve. He said Eaddy will help in that area.

    "He will be one of the fastest players on the team," Wulff said. "He has an excellent chance of contributing this fall."

  • Rico Forbes, offensive line, Houston: Forbes initially signed with Baylor out of high school, but he is from the Bahamas and Wulff said he could benefit from more experience. He plans to redshirt Forbes this season.

    "He's got all the potential in the world to be a great player," he said.

  • Max Gama, safety, La Miranda, Calif.: Wulff likes the 6-foot, 185-pound Gama's toughness, but said he likely will grayshirt and enroll in January 2012.

  • Matt Goetz, offensive line, Cibolo, Texas: Goetz signed with Texas Tech in 2009 and played at Navarro Community College in Texas last season. Wulff said Goetz, who has three years of eligibility remaining, could provide immediate depth at guard or center.

  • Max Hersey, athlete, Tacoma: Wulff said Hersey was offered a scholarship on signing day a year ago and committed hours later. He said Hersey likely will play tight end, but could also end up as a defensive lineman.

  • Ian Knight, defensive end, Wichita, Kan.: Knight could be in line for immediate playing time as Wulff said the Cougars look to upgrade their pass rush.

    "We expect a lot out of Ian," he said.

  • Brock Lutes, athlete, Newberg, Ore.: Wulff said Lutes could play either tight end or outside linebacker at WSU.

    "He's blessed with a lot of physical ability," he said.

  • Marcus Mason, running back, Etiwanda, Calif.: Wulff said Mason was a player the coaching staff identified late in the recruiting process, but expects him to challenge for immediate playing time.

    "He gives us excellent speed and explosiveness," Wulff said. "The competition there is going to be fierce."

  • Logan Mayes, athlete, Eugene, Ore.: The son of legendary WSU running back Rueben Mayes is someone Wulff describes as "a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker." He loves his intangibles.

    "He's just a fanatic," Wulff said. "He's a football junky."

  • Taylor Meighen, offensive line, Beaumont, Texas: Another junior-college signing who could play immediately. Wulff said Meighen's game tape displayed "some really good signs."

  • Alex Mitchell, offensive line, Portland, Ore.: Wulff likes this interior line prospect, but noted that he needs to make some progress academically to qualify.

  • Darryl Monroe Jr., linebacker, Orlando, Fla.: When Sekope Kaufusi and C.J. Mizell earned more playing time and starting jobs last season, Wulff specifically cited their physicality. He said Monroe brings more of the same.

    "He's going to bring us an attitude and some real physical play from the linebacker position," he said.

  • Isiah Myers, wide receiver, Gotha, Fla.: The 6-foot, 170-pound Myers is smaller than Marquess Wilson, who eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards last season for the Cougars, but said he has a similar body type. He also lauded Myers' football IQ.

  • Darryl Paulo, linebacker, Sacramento, Calif.: WSU officially lists him at linebacker, but Wulff said he expects Paulo to play defensive end. He said he was excited to sign Paulo, who was "highly recruited throughout our conference." Paulo was known to hold an offer from Oregon State.

  • T.J. Poloai, defensive tackle, Sacramento, Calif.: Wulff describes the 6-foot-2 Poloai as a "tough, physical guy" and expects him to become 300 pounds. Poloai is listed at 265.

  • Tana Pritchard, athlete, Lakewood: The son of former WSU center David Pritchard, Wulff lauded his toughness and intelligence. Pritchard, who could play tight end or linebacker, was regarded as a key reason behind Dockery's signing.

    "Tana's already recruiting," Wulff said. "He's going to be a great asset to Cougar football."

  • Chester Su'a, linebacker, Pearl City, Hawaii: Wulff signed four-star, high-school recruits Mizell and tight end Aaron Dunn last year and another, wide receiver Gino Simone, in 2009. But he said Su'a "may be as talented as we've signed here."

    "He's got great instincts, tremendous toughness and aggression," he said. "It's a matter of time before he's an impact player in this conference."

  • Wendell Taiese, offensive line, Oakland, Calif.: It is rare that a 6-foot-6, 350-pound linemen would be overlooked. But Wulff said that might have occurred because Taiese struggled academically early in high school. He believes Taiese has "an excellent chance" of qualifying, though.

    "He's a heck of an athlete," Wulff said. "He's someone who could play right away because of his size and strength."

  • Spencer Waseem, defensive back, Apopka, Fla.: Wulff said the Cougars were judicious with scholarships for defensive backs because of their depth in that area, but Waseem stood out.

    "He's a very physical corner," he said. "His toughness is going to bring a lot to our CB position."

  • Dominique Williams, wide receiver, Pomona, Calif.: Wulff said the 6-foot-3 Williams needs time in the weight room to develop strength. He said Williams is a blend of current WSU receivers Wilson and Kristoff Williams.

  • Lenard Williams, defensive end, Chesterfield, S.C.: Williams is the only junior-college signing with just two years of eligibility left, which means he will see immediate playing time.

    "He's someone who can make an impact this fall," Wulff said. "Lenard is going to be a player we're going to rely on because of his size, speed and strength."


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