Clarity on the unsigned Cougar four

WSU's SIGNING DAY ended with questions and confusion, with the names of Olito Thompson, Markell Sanders, Marcellus Pippins and Dylan Hanser nowhere in sight on WSU's official signing day list or release. But CF.C went in search of answers, and found some…

CF.C spoke to Sanders' coach at Eastside Catholic, Jeremy Thielbahr to get the skinny on Sanders, and ended up getting that and more. Thielbahr said the new rule, which WSU chief of staff Dave Emerick in CF.C's chat room today said limits schools to 25 signed Letters of Intent (in effect eliminating oversigning,) means that Sanders didn't sign an LOI, but did sign what Thielbahr called a "grayshirt letter".

"'A grayshirt letter, grayshirt paperwork' or whatever you want to call it, it just confirms he'll grayshirt, that's what he signed," said Thielbahr. "He didn't sign an LOI, because schools can't sign more than 25 anymore. Because of Markell's injury, all parties thought it best that he join the program later. He'll enroll at WSU and be a full-time student this fall, but he won't be on scholarship or join the team until next January.

"Washington State can't talk about Markell, or the other guys in that situation -- that's why they didn't list them today because they're still recruitable student-athletes. What he signed isn't binding. But I fully expect Markell to 1) enroll at WSU this fall and then 2) join the team and go on scholarship for the spring semester in 2014. So the first time WSU will be able to mention him I believe is the mid-year signing period in December."

Thielbahr said it was his understanding Thompson also signed "grayshirt paperwork" and not an NLI.

Another prep source who asked not to be identified said Thompson has some academic work to do. If Thompson were able to get everything squared away academically by August, he could potentially join the Cougs then by signing a financial aid agreement. Two points here: The last date a prep prospect can sign an LOI is in April. After that, an addition signs financial aid papers. Second, the Cougs can take a total of 26, with one of the mid-term January enrollees able to be counted against the 2012 class, because the Cougs signed 24 initials in the previous class. Note that this provision is only temporary, it will expire after this year.

IN PUTTING ALL the pieces together, WSU looks to have some flexibility in moving forward – there are 24 signees listed by WSU in their official release and they have room to bring on 26.

That would square with what Dave Emerick said in CF.C's chat room today when he said there could still be some "surprises" in the weeks to come (and that could also just as easily be in the months to come.) Sanders and Thompson could both arrive in January of 2014, or Thompson could still arrive this fall. So there are a lot of possibilities and machinations that could still play out.

And what about Marcellus Pippins? The Contra-Costa Times reports Pippins said he signed an LOI -- but it is almost certain that something was lost in translation and that he instead, like Sanders and Thompson, signed "grayshirt paperwork" to use that term. Why?

Pippins is not listed on WSU's official list and he also told scout.com's Greg Biggins that WSU had extended a grayshirt offer prior to Signing Day.

Correction: Another player, Dylan Hanser, has also said he will delay his enrollment at WSU as well. WSU does not show him as having signed an LOI either, making four unsigned.

Two final points. 1. How is it that some other schools seem to have signed more than 25? All indications are that some of those who signed in those classes did so earlier as mid-year additions who enrolled in January -- and those schools also had the ability to assign some to the previous year's class -- because they were below 25 initials in that class -- and to get down to 25 LOIs in this class. Again, this will be eliminated going forward. 2. Schools will need to be much more judicious going forward in signing academic risks than they previously had to be when oversigning was allowed.

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