The Man of the Hour in Cougar Recruiting

WASHINGTON STATE coach Mike Leach is on course to sign a recruiting class Wednesday that has positional balance and carries enough must-see highlight tape to keep the faithful glued to the computer screen for hours. But make no mistake. The centerpiece of this class is absolutely, positively quarterback Tyler Bruggman, who will come to Pullman with a rare triple whammy on his resume.

A 4-star rating, top 25 ranking at his position, and a spot among the 300 best overall prospects in the nation (number 274) is the triple crown of the recruiting game.

And Bruggman has it.

Oh, he's not the first Cougar recruit to hit the trifecta. Chester Sua did it in 2011 and Aaron Dunn in 2010, while Gabe Marks last year and Gino Simone in 2009 barely missed by virtue of being just beyond the top 25 at their position.

But when it comes to quarterbacks, the pride of Phoenix's Brophy Prep is in rare crimson company ...

  • He is the first Cougar QB signee since Arkelon Hall in 2005 to have 4 stars next to his name.

  • He is one of only three in the last 10 to crack the national top 25 at the position (the others being Hall in '05 and Connor Halliday in 2010).

  • And since Scout.com introduced its annual Top 300 with the 2008 recruiting class, he is the only WSU signal caller to make the list.

    Adding to the luster (and more significant in the eyes of this observer) is a long string of scholarship offers extending everywhere from UCLA to Michigan State, Arkansas to BYU. That, perhaps above all, sets him apart from every WSU quarterback signee going back to the launch of Scout.com in 2002.

    There's one more factoid that puts a crimson bow around WSU's landing of Bruggman. The recruiting flood gates opened for the Cougars after he made his pledge to Leach. Within one week of his June 13 commitment, the number of verbals in WSU's 2013 class swelled from two to eight.

    BRUGGMAN
    BY THE NUMBERS

  • 5,287
    Passing yards over the last two seasons.

  • 129 and 108
    QB ratings in 2011 and 2012.

  • 70
    Touchdown passes over the last two seasons.

  • 59
    Completion percentage over the last two seasons.

  • 22-4
    Brophy Prep's record over the last two seasons.


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  • "The buzz around Tyler is as big as any WSU recruit in the last dozen years, and probably bigger," says Cougfan.com managing editor Barry Bolton, a long-time analyst of the recruiting wars.

    "Take the position he plays, his lofty rating and double-digit scholarship offers, and then marry them with the dramatic duel Washington State waged for him with the hometown Sun Devils -- a battle intensified by this era of social media -- and you arguably have someone as anticipated on the Palouse as Drew Bledsoe," Bolton added.

    But to actually compare Bruggman and Bledsoe is way off base, says Bolton.

    "The quick release is definitely a shared trait, but they are very different players. Bledsoe was huge, physically speaking, and possessed a cannon arm. He was a classic drop-back quarterback in a different era of offensive football. Tyler is 6-2, 200 pounds, and has a very good arm, not a rifle. He moves well, and is comfortable under center or in the gun, but it's his accuracy and decision making that are special," said Bolton.

    And thus, a perfect fit for the Air Raid?

    "Arm strength is about sixth on the list of what I look for in a quarterback," Mike Leach said in his book Swing Your Sword. First and foremost for him is accuracy. Then comes decision making, toughness, good feet, leadership, smarts.

    All of these things are more important to him than the cannon, Bolton noted.

    Over his junior and senior seasons, Bruggman threw a collective 558 passes from Brophy Prep's hurry-up, no-huddle offense.

    Just 10 of those 558 balls were intercepted.

    Let's repeat that: 10 out of 558.

    And you know some of those were the receivers' fault or Hail Mary's at the end of a losing game.

    "He always knows exactly what to get to," Brophy head coach Scotter Molander told CF.C last fall after a game in which Bruggman called a mountain of audibles. "He knows the playbook as well as our staff. That's a rare thing."

    This season Bruggman earned first-team Division I All-State honors from the Arizona Football Coaches Association, as well as first-team academic all-state plaudits from the National Football Foundation.

    Santa Margarita (Calif.) High School head coach Harry Welch was asked by CF.C about Bruggman after facing him in a nationally televised inter-state battle back in August.

    "The Cougars are going to be very, very happy," he said. "... you've got a guy that's accurate, tough, coordinated, good vision, quick release, throws a beautiful ball."

    And that was one of Bruggman's off nights.

    Edmund Hubbard, who covered nine of Bruggman's games this fall for Cougfan.com, says it's clear to him why Leach was hell bent on landing the quarterback.

    "His timing was amazing for his age. The ball would hit the receiver right on the hands, in stride, nine times out of 10," said Hubbard, who noted that Brophy receivers dropped a plethora of catchable balls that kept Bruggman's completion percentage out of the 60s.

    "I wish I could have played with a quarterback that accurate in high school," quipped Hubbard, a one-time Brophy Prep player himself.

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