RECRUITING: Wulff, Razz turn the page to 2012

SEATTLE—Washington State is less than a week removed from Signing Day. But Paul Wulff, recruiting coordinator Rich Rasmussen and the rest of the coaching staff already are planning out next year's targets. In a wide ranging conversation with CF.C, they offered insight on three key areas of emphasis for '12, the size of the next recruiting class and more.

Washington State fans are becoming accustomed to watching long highlight shows each year at A Night With Cougar Football, (Cougfan was a co-sponsor of the evening, at the CF.C table were Hall-of-Famer Duke Washington, budding NFL star Brandon Gibson and legendary Cougar QB Ryan Leaf and his father John.)

But after signing nearly the maximum numbers of recruits in each of the last three classes, coach Paul Wulff said Friday that the group he signs in February 2012 will be significantly smaller.

Wulff mentioned that among the 105 players that will be on this season's team, only six were recruited before he was hired Dec. 11, 2007. Those players include offensive linemen B.J. Guerra, Tyson Pencer and Andrew Roxas, cornerback Aire Justin, quarterback Marshall Lobbestael and running back Logwone Mitz. All were signed by former coach Bill Doba in 2007. Pencer, who will be a redshirt junior this fall, grayshirted and enrolled in '08.

In addition to those players, seven others that Wulff signed during his first three classes — wide receivers Isiah Barton and Jared Karstetter, offensive linemen David Gonzales and Wade Jacobson, linebackers Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Mike Ledgerwood and defensive lineman Brandon Rankin — are scheduled to graduate.

But with just a dozen scholarship seniors, Wulff said he expects to have room to sign between 16 to 18 players next winter. The Cougars will have some extra scholarships available in addition to the graduating players because of attrition, particularly the 2009 class, which retained 14 of the 23 prospects signed.

WSU RECRUITING COORDINATOR and tight-ends coach Rich Rasmussen said the offensive line will be a primary focus because four players graduate.

The 2012 crop of in-state o-linemen is projected to be above average in terms of quality depth and among the state's more highly touted prospects, the trio of Lakes' Zach Banner, Juanita's Nathan Dean and Puyallup's Joshua Garrett.

WHILE RASMUSSEN CANNOT speak about specific recruits, he said he is intrigued by several Evergreen State prospects in the upcoming class.

"It's going to be a good year in the state of Washington," he said. "There's six fairly high-profile guys we're going to try to get looks on."

RASMUSSEN SAID RUNNING BACK will be another priority.

The Cougars had one-time verbal commitments from Gonzaga Prep running back Bishop Sankey and Alabama's DaMarcus James before both headed elsewhere, Sankey to UW and James to nearby Jacksonville State. WSU signed California's Marcus Mason, but graduated running backs Marcus Richmond, Chantz Staden and James Montgomery, who could seek a sixth season of eligibility.

Mitz also will graduate after this season, leaving Rickey Galvin, Arthur Burns and Carl Winston, and Rasmussen would like to sign multiple players to replenish the depth at that position.

ONE FINAL AREA of emphasis will be in the defensive backfield.

Because safety Max Gama is slated to grayshirt — Wulff said he will enroll next January — WSU will register just one defensive back, Florida cornerback Spencer Waseem. Rasmussen said defensive backs were not an emphasis in the 2011 class because of the Cougars' depth in that area, but for next year he wants to sign a pair of cornerbacks and safeties in the 2012 class.

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