Experts size up Washington State's new class

MORE THAN 20 new Cougar footbalers are in the fold so far today and some notable prospects aren't tipping their hands until later, but the class is getting close enough to a wrap that we put a few questions to three learned folks to get a handle on what to think of this new Cougar class that was built in part by Paul Wulff and in part by Mike Leach.

Hee's what they had to say ...

JACK EVANS, CF.C Recruiting Analyst Emeritus
The thing that really jumps out at me is the inroads Mike Leach made into southern California. The guy was, to use a pirate reference, a full-rigged frigate down there in a way WSU has not been in years. When all is said and done, it looks like he's going to have brought in a half-dozen kids from southern California. That's the hotbed of talent on the West Coast and what Leach did there bodes well for the future.

In terms of my pick for sleeper of the class, I'm going with defensive end Jacob Tuivaiave of Washington High in Tacoma. He's from a 2A school so there wasn't a whole lot of attention directed his way. He's got the frame at 6-4 and 240, plus the motor, to blossom. Two other guys I'm looking forward to seeing in action for the Cougs are linebacker Jeremiah Allison of Dorsey High in Los Angeles -- physically, he looks like he's ready now -– and offensive tackle Sam Jones, the BIG (6-7, 300) surprise today from Pima JC who was a 4-star player coming out of high school.

BARRY BOLTON, CF.C Managing Editor
It's remarkable how the class has transformed since Mike Leach took over. When he arrived, there were 19 verbal commits, which was a tremendous starting point. He kept 10 of them, and then went to town reshaping the rest of the class. I didn't envision that level of turnover. But based on the other offers many of his additions were getting, it looks like he upgraded across the board with the new guys he brought in. The receiving corps is really impressive. Leach's reputation for winning and for playing an exciting brand of football really made a difference. Imagine what he and his staff will be able to do with a full year of recruiting to work with rather than two months.

One player in this class who I think has been completely overlooked, probably because he committed so long ago (mid April) is Deone Bucannon's brother, David Bucannon. has him rated the No. 56 safety prospect in the nation. I like his size (6-2, 180) and his footwork, and he's a tackling machine with 127 and 108 sticks the last two years. I think he's going to be one we hear a lot about down the road. For instant impact in 2012, two to watch are Niu Sale on the offensive line and Destiny Vaeao on the d-line. Sale was a highly sought JC prospect and Vaeao, despite the fact he'll be a true freshman, is physically ready to go now at 260, and his impressive offer list suggests others might think so too.

I think the 2012 class took Washington State recruiting to the next level. I think that Cougar fans got a window into the future of recruiting classes to come. Paul Wulff and staff built a strong foundation for this class that allowed Coach Leach to come in, do some trimming, and then focus on a small group of prospects he wanted in Pullman. He added major talent and speed to a class that was already solid.

I think the best work came in the trenches. The Cougars brought in six offensive linemen, and while none of the Cougar prospects are "elite," the offensive line is the one position where you find success in depth and numbers. Sale could see playing time this year, but I think most will pay dividends after a redshirt season and time in the weight room. Eduardo Middleton is my favorite prospect on the offensive line; his athleticism and frame give him a very high ceiling. The wide receiver group at WSU was arguably the most talented position on campus to begin with, but even more bodies were needed for Coach Leach's system. Gabriel Marks, Robert Lewis and 2011 bounce back Rhamel Dockery will provide big-play potential at the inside wide receiver spot. On the defensive side of the ball I see an emphasis on athleticism. Jeremiah Allison, Kache Palacio and Khalil Petttway all bring a new level of speed and pass-rushing ability to the linebacker position.

I think Cougar fans are only getting a taste of what it is like to be able to recruit any prospect in the West. With a full recruiting cycle, more wins and maybe even a bowl victory, there is no telling what Leach and company could do in the class of 2013.

  • Here's the full roster of new Cougs: WSU's 2012 COMMIT LIST

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