How the new Cougar class figures to rank

BARRING A SERIES of Michael Bumpus-esque surprises, Mike Leach's first recruiting class at Washington State isn't likely to draw much national attention tomorrow when letters of intent are signed. Scout.com currently ranks WSU's expected class of 2012 athletes at No. 59 nationally, just behind Georgia Tech and ahead of Toledo, and No. 12 in the Pac-12.

Six Pac-12 teams are currently in the top 30 in the nation with their 2012 recruiting classes: UCLA 11th, Oregon 13th, Stanford 19th, USC 25th, Colorado 26th and Washington 28th. Then there's Oregon State (37th), Utah (39th) and Cal (41), followed by Arizona State (48), Arizona (55) and WSU (59).

Those numbers will continue to move over the coming hours, and even days, as late-choosing players commit and others pull a switch, but dramatic shifts are unlikely.

These ratings are a loose guide based on subjectivity, thus to be taken with a grain of salt, but they are a decent starting point for discussion.

One of my favorite examples of why the ratings should be viewed casually is this one that my old colleague Pat Mitchell discovered a decade ago: The collective number of stars awarded to Marcus Trufant, Erik Coleman and Will Derting when they were high school seniors was less than the 5 stars given to a quarterback from that same era: future third-string Husky Casey Paus. Together, their prep star power didn't equal Paus.

Here's the complete run-down of Scout.com's national team recruiting rankings for 2012 (which will be updated continually over the coming days).

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING, IF the Cougars' new class lands -- as we guesstimate -- somewhere between Nos. 58 and 62 when final rankings are compiled, it will be the second-lowest-rated WSU class since continuous national records began in 2002. The 2008 edition -- which, like this current group, came in between a change in head coaches -- was the only one lower on the list at No. 74.

The 2012 Cougar class' low ranking will be something new for Leach. Since 2002, only two of his classes at Texas Tech were rated lower than 37th (his 2007 crop was rated 44th by Scout.com and his ‘08 class was 59th). Tech's best showings in that timeframe were No. 14 in 2002 and No. 17 in ‘04.

AS FOR WSU, IF YOU THROW OUT THE aberrations at each end -- No. 21 in 2004 and No. 74 in 2008 -- you'll find that the 40s and 50s tend to be where WSU classes rank nationally. And for the record, that touted 2004 class turned out to be a bust of seismic proportion, illustrating one more time how this whole thing can be more crapshoot than science.

Indeed, the 1999 WSU class was No. 39 nationally but rated between eighth and tenth in the Pac-10 by the recruiting services of the day. Yet that class wound up being the backbone for the Cougars' three consecutive 10-win seasons from 2001-03. That trifecta, by the way, marked the first time a Pac-10 school had strung together three straight 10-win seasons since the 1930s.

WSU's NATIONAL RECRUITING RANKING HISTORY:

  • 2011 –- 57th, just behind Maryland and ahead of Indiana
  • 2010 –- 40th, just behind Arizona and ahead of Georgia Tech
  • 2009 –- 43rd, just behind Clemson and ahead of Baylor
  • 2008 –- 74th, tied with Vandy, just behind UTEP and ahead of Troy
  • 2007 –- 54th, just behind Connecticut and ahead of Kansas State
  • 2006 –- 45th, just behind Boston College and ahead of BYU
  • 2005 –- 47th, just behind Kansas State and ahead of Georgia Tech
  • 2004 –- 21st, just behind North Carolina State and ahead of Washington
  • 2003 –- 58th, just behind West Virginia and ahead of BYU
  • 2002 –- 48th, just behind Illinois and ahead of Oregon State
  • 2001 –- Unable to locate
  • 2000 –- Unable to locate
  • 1999 –- 39th, just behind Kentucky and ahead of Illinois
    ONE-TIME COUGAR STARS AND FUTURE NFL PLAYERS ERIK COLEMAN, JASON DAVID AND MARCUS TRUFANT WERE STAR-CHALLENGED AS HIGH SCHOOL PROSPECTS, ILLUSTRATING THE POINT THAT RECRUITING IS MORE ART THAN SCIENCE.


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