WSU recruiting: All eyes on ...2014? And '15?

WHILE TWO months still remain in the 2013 recruiting cycle, the time and attention Mike Leach & Co. are devoting to the 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes at this early stage is unprecedented. WSU has extended 14 known scholarship offers to class of ‘14 prospects, and three to ‘15 athletes. It's a level of recruiting trail jump-starting that one long-time analyst says he's never seen on the Palouse.

"It's a new approach for Washington State," says regional analyst Brandon Huffman, who has followed West Coast recruiting up close for more than a decade. "I don't really remember previous classes where guys were getting offers from them this early on in the process. It's one thing if it were 2014 players, but they're recruiting guys from 2015 as well. Their coaching staff is showing a need to be aggressive early."

Of those 14 known scholarship offers by WSU for the class of 2014, three are to in-staters:

  • OL Kaleb McGary of Fife
  • CB Budda Baker of Bellevue, and
  • WR Garrett McKay of Tacoma/Ballarmine Prep

    Another one of the early offers is to 6-6, 295-pound guard Austin Hall out of Brophy Prep in Phoenix. He's one of the hosses who helped incoming Cougar quarterback Tyler Bruggman throw for 33 TDs and nearly 2,800 yards this season.

    Eight of the Cougars' 14 early offers, including Baker's, are to high school juniors already deemed 4-star prospects by And three of those eight, also including Baker, are cornerbacks.

    Geographically speaking, California, Texas and Arizona are, as expected, represented on the early offer list. But so is Tennessee, in the form of 4-star receiver Josh Malone of Gallatin.

    This suggests Leach and staff remain committed to looking far afield for talent just as they've done in this 2013 recruiting cycle.

    In fact, during his teleconference with reporters last week, WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos noted that Leach was recruiting in Alabama (presumably to visit 2013 prospect Rod Crayton).

    Leach also is believed to recently have been in Georgia and Florida. Florida, in particular, is an area in which Leach continues to build bridges. The Cougs are after 2013 WR prospect Taj Williams out of Tallahassee, but also have their eye on the 53rd-ranked receiver from the class of 2014: Johnnie Dixon out of Dwyer High in Palm Beach Garden, whom WSU offered last week.

    The 5-10, 190-pound Dixon recently shared his excitement on landing that Air Raid offer via twitter.

    "Offer from Washington State today #BLESSED," he tweeted.

    For a broader list of 2014 prospects believed already on the Cougar radar, click here.

    MEANWHILE, LOOKING TO THE recruiting class of 2015 -- kids who are high school sophomores right now -- WSU is so far known to have made scholarship offers to three players:

  • QB Brett Rypien of Spokane/Shadle
  • RB Austin Joyner of Marysville Pilchuck, and
  • CB Iman Marshall of Long Beach Poly

    "It's becoming a newer trend in the college football landscape to offer guys much earlier," Huffman said. "I think it's definitely Washington State's way of showing that they're up with current times and ahead of the game."

    Rypien is an intriguing prospect. He's already 6-2 and 175-pounds and broke the state's single-game passing record this season. In all, he fired for more than 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2012, to go along with 770 air yards he collected in four varsity starts at the end of the 2011 campaign. He is the nephew of Mark Rypien, the legendary WSU and Super Bowl MVP quarterback, and Chris Tormey, the former WSU and UW assistant coach and one-time Idaho and Nevada head coach.

    "I have always liked Washington State," the young Rypien told Scout's Jake Worthen in late November. "My whole family has gone there. I like Washington State a lot but I also want to see how things play out in recruiting."

    Rypien is also receiving plenty of interest from Washington and took an unofficial visit to Montlake earlier this season.

    Joyner, a 5-10, 180-pound speedster out of Marysville, was offered by the Cougs on Dec. 6 and the Huskies on Nov. 20. They are his only two offers so far.

    Similarly, Marshall, a teammate of 2013 WSU verbal commit Gerard Wicks, has offers from both the Cougs and Huskies, as well as UCLA.

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