What Cougs are getting in QB verbal Bender

UNTIL HE VERBALLY committed to Washington State on Saturday, most if not all Cougar fans had yet to even hear of Fort Lauderdale QB Peyton Bender. CF.C went to the guy who knows him best, his head coach at Cardinal Gibbons High, Mike Morril, to get the 411 on the first known commit in the Cougs' 2014 class.

Mike Leach and Washington State were the first to offer Bender – why was that?

"I think the others were probably just waiting -- he's not a 6-4, 6-5 kid," said Morril. "He has as good as arm as anyone in the country but he's not the prototype. These guys have to justify their jobs, and it's harder to take the guy who is 6-1. He was just behind some other guys on the boards, I know for a fact he was the next guy on their boards.

"But thankfully you have a guy like Mike Leach who has the courage to go with a guy who can sling it around. Mike Leach doesn't care about any of that other stuff -- you don't have to have a guy who is 6-5 or runs a 4.3 to win… and to be very successful."

BENDER AND HIS FATHER were at WSU on an unofficial visit that began on Wednesday. So when the offer came on Friday, his decision to go crimson on Saturday wasn't made on a whim. His dad was in agreement and so was Morril, who talked to Bender on the phone after the scholie was put on the table.

"I thought they would offer him -- once they saw and met him in person," said Morril. "He's an impressive young man, I thought coach Leach and his staff, they would enjoy working with him.

"We thought it was a good fit, and the more they evaluated the film the more they liked him. It was a matter of him going to see them, he and his dad went out this weekend and got a sense of the place."

BENDER IS ALREADY very familiar with Leach's offense. His offensive coordinator at Cardinal Gibbons, Matt Dubuc, played at Texas Tech – but not under Leach, he was a RB/WR from 1993-96. But he followed Tech closely under Leach and has installed Leach's Air Raid at Cardinal Gibbons.

"There are a bunch of reasons Peyton is a good fit there – first, our offensive coordinator is a Texas Tech guy, he's a Mike Leach disciple," said Morril. "He's studied the offense extensively and that's what we've been running the last year. And then he has a great arm, great pocket presence, he reads very well.

"He is the prototype of a Mike Leach QB. You don't have to be 6-4 or 6-5 to have success under Mike Leach – you just have to make good decisions and make good reads and you're going to do well."

BEING A SUCCESSFUL quarterback at the Pac-12 level also has much to do with mental makeup and work ethic.

Morril said Bender excels at both.

"He's a very cerebral kid, he's a film kid," said Morril. "He does not get frazzled, he's an unshakeable kid. All those things bode well for a QB who's going to have to throw the ball quite a bit in that offense… he's a great kid and we're delighted that he's happy and that Washington state is happy."

  • WSU hasn't offered but is interested in a pair of 2014 wide receivers from Cardinal Gibbons – Trevon Lee and George Rushing. Morril said WSU will be coming down during the May Evaluation period. Lee has double digit offers and Rushing is fast approaching that mark. Both are rated three stars by scout.com.

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