A closer look at Mike Leach and recruiting

BILL MOOS SAID he expects Mike Leach will keep all the verbal commits already in place though the final decision will rest with the new head coach. Given Leach's recruiting history at Texas Tech, and his recruiting philosophy, it appears this is his kind of recruiting class already.

All signs point to Leach keeping the recruiting class intact -- it will be late in the game, Dec. 6, when Leach is finally introduced. he still has to put a staff together with Feb. 1 Signing Day coming up quickly. The class is virtually full and the number of uncommitted prospects out there are few. Moos is enamored with the incoming class and was far more involved with it than an AD typically is, sitting down and talking at length with commits.

"It wasn't just a simple hello," said Wazzu's QB commit, Austin Apodaca, on his and his family's visits with Moos on both his unofficial and official trips.

ANY COACH COMING in at this time of year just isn't going to find tons of guys he wants more than the other guys already in place. That kind of thorough evaluation and identification takes place over a full year's recruiting cycle. For an incoming coach, there are few things more pressing than putting a class together. It's a far different situation at WSU for Leach, with 19 known commits and projected room for 19-20.

Consider also that when Leach came on board at Texas Tech in December, Leach had one commit, a 170-pound kid. As related in his book, Swing Your Sword: Leading the Charge in Football and Life, Leach didn't particularly like his athleticism, speed or much of anything else. But he immediately said we're going to honor the commitment. By the way, Leach said the player ended up proving him wrong, a starter they inserted at tight end and fullback -- no one could take the starting job from him during his career.

As for the players' decision who are on the commit list, they're not going to be jumping ship. Leach is about as big as it gets as far as name recognition.

Some tenets of Leach's recruiting philosophy include:

  • The most important quality in recruiting isn't ties to the region, it's persistence. Leach says you don't have to be a dynamic salesman, you just have to be persistent. That trumps everything else.

  • Leach says he wants to take no more than five JC guys in a 25-member class, it's critical to build through high school players. He goes to the JCs to fill holes, or to land difference maker, instant impact types. But high school players are the most important to building the program.

  • The QB is obviously hugely critical to a Leach offense. But arm strength? "Arm strength is about sixth on the list of what I look for in a quarterback," writes Leach. First and foremost for Leach is accuracy. Decision making, toughness, good feet, leadership, smarts – all of these things are more important. A great QB is no more important in Leach's system than in any others, he says, but he had better be smart, because he's going to be allowed to change the play from goal-line to goal-line.

    THAT WOULD SEEM to fit Apodaca to a tee, though the Silver Creek, Colo. verbal commit to WSU has plenty of arm strength.

    Apodaca has thrown at a 72 percent clip this season (235-for-325, 3,524 yards). His touchdown to interception ratio is 43-to-8. Two weeks ago in a playoff win, he did it with his feet, running for 134 yards and three scores. The following week, he threw the second most TD passes in Colorado prep state history (7), going 32-of-38 for 446 yards in a 55-37 win.

    "I give all the credit to the offensive line and receivers…I'm very excited Mike Leach is the new head coach. I'm still in shock, he's such a successful coach and so well known. I really feel for the outgoing staff, though," said Apodaca.

    Apodaca and Silver Creek play in the Class 3A state title game this Saturday against Windsor (12-1), their lone defeat coming against Silver Creek in Week 5, 41-21.

    "I haven't looked into Coach Leach's offense yet but I do know he obviously likes to pass the ball, you hear a lot of people say he's an offensive genius. And I've obviously seen the statistics… I have been hearing from other schools, and seeing quite a bit of new interest, but I'm obviously still committed to Washington State," said Apodaca.

    Apodaca said Rich Rasmussen called last night to give him an update on Leach and talk football.

    "Coach Razz was really gracious about everything. He's a very good coach," said Apodaca.

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