So who is Sam Jones and how'd WSU get him?

PULLMAN — It turns out that Washington State fans weren't the only ones surprised today by the Cougars' signing of 6-7, 300-pound offensive tackle Sam Jones. Pat Nugent, Jones' coach at Pima Junior College in Arizona, tells he was shocked when he learned the former North Carolina State player had gone crimson. His surprise was due to the speed of the courtship.

"It truly happened over night," Nugent said. "Coach Leach was down here last week, on Tuesday, and then Sam was there two days later to visit. I was kind of surprised because I got a text from him saying he was up there, I didn't know he was visiting."

Nugent said Sam Jones arrived in Pullman last Thursday and spent two days on the Palouse. "He enjoyed it so much he wanted to make a commitment there," Nugent said. "It was (assistant) coach (Dennis) Simmons who really sold it to him."

Jones seemingly came out of nowhere into the Cougar orbit this morning when he faxed his letter of intent to WSU. He was so far off the mainstream radar that the last recruiting story about him on appeared in 2009.

Part of that invisibility may have something to do with grades. Nugent told CF.C that teams may have backed off on Jones because he still has some work to get done in the classroom.

Still, Jones received scholarship offers from a number of schools, including Kansas State, Mississippi State and Marshall.

Jones will be taking classes this spring, and one during the first summer session in order to gain eligibility, said Nugent, noting that he fully expects Jones to get it done and be in Pullman for fall camp. He will have two seasons and two years of eligibility.

As for his work on the field, Nugent is succinct: "Sam is a tremendous athlete. He's got great footwork with great technique. He's a pure specimen and he can move his feet so well that it will benefit in the passing scheme Coach Leach is running."

This past season, Jones was a first-team all-league selection, starting at right tackle.

His road to the Pac-12 is a circuitous one.

As a high school senior in North Carolina in 2007 Jones was a 3-star prospect with offers from Tennessee, North Carolina State and others. He verbally committed to N.C. State, but detoured to Chatham Hargrave Military School for a year to work on his grades. In the 2008 recruiting cycle he was rated a 4-star prospect, and re-committed to the Wolfpack after a brief look at Florida State. Jones joined N.C. State in 2009 and redshirted that season before cracking the two-deep depth chart in spring ball before the 2010 season. He left State shortly after and transferred to Pima for the 2011 season.

"He had some issues with new coaching staff (at N.C. State) and had some family out West and that's the direction he wanted to go," Nugent said.

Jones puts a large cap on what has been a bountiful recruiting year for WSU along the offensive line. Joining him in the trenches in this class are Niu Sale (6-3, 300), Pierson Villarrubia (6-4 ½, 275), Eduardo Middleton (6-5, 280), Denzell Dotson (6-2 ½, 315), Sam Flor (6-4, 285) and B.J. Salmonson (6-5, 265).

The incoming Cougars bumber 24 (plus 4 more who enrolled in January) and it appears WSU is done for the moment, though there could be additional machinations in the coming days and weeks.
Here's the roster of 24 new Cougs who have signed LOIs: WSU COMMIT LIST

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