WSU's aggressive hunt for 3-tool O-linemen

MIKE LEACH IS known for passing, but as we get into the heart of his third recruiting cycle at Washington State it is pretty clear he has at least one foot firmly anchored on the ground. More specifically, on the offensive line. How so? This recruiting cycle hasn't even hit the May Evaluation Period yet and WSU already has made 13 known scholarship offers to OL prospects.

This follows the Cougars' 2013 recruiting class which included six hosses, which in turn followed a 2012 recruiting class that also included six.

Based on a very early projection, look for the Cougs to take sign at least five and perhaps six when LOI Day rolls around in February.

That's called stocking the cupboard.

The old adage that winning begins up front is certainly not lost on Leach.

But the aggressiveness with which the Cougs are going after linemen again in this cycle speaks to my belief that great hosses are more critical to Leach's offense than most college offenses.

I say that because the Air Raid requires its linemen to be in pass protection upward of 60 times per game. Think about that for a moment. Sixty-plus times a game these guys must back pedal while protecting their quarterback from large, quick and athletic defensive players who get the benefit of going full steam ahead. Moreover, the wide splits add to the angles and ground that must be covered.

In spades, that takes size, agility and endurance from the guys up front.

So it's little wonder Leach & Co. put such a premium early in the recruiting cycle on finding and offering offensive linemen they believe can fill all three of those requirements -- size, agility and endurance -- at the major-college level.

And based on the offers that the Cougs have made in the offensive trenches so far in this recruiting cycle, it's pretty clear Leach has no intention of finding himself again saying, as he did at the conclusion of this past season, that the Cougars' offensive line was undersized.

Of the 13 known offers, 10 of the players currently stand between 6-5 and 6-8, with the other three between 6-3 and 6-4. Moreover, four already tip the scales at 300-plus pounds, while another four are between 280 and 295. The rest are between 250 and 272.

Mind you now, these kids are high school juniors right now. They have a whole summer of conditioning and lifting before they start their senior campaigns in the fall.

Here are some other interesting notes about the OL prospects WSU has offered to date:

  • Two of them are used to protecting Cougar quarterbacks. Austin Hall (6-5, 295) hails from Phoenix' Brophy Prep, which produced Tyler Bruggman; and Isaac Miller (6-7, 250) is from Silver Creek High in Longmont, Colo., where Austin Apodaca prepped.

  • Only one of the 13 early offers has gone to a prospect from the Pacific Northwest: Fife's four-star tackle Kaleb McGary (6-6, 272).

  • Two states -- California and Texas -- are represented with multiple players, with a collective total of eight. The most coveted of them are Connor Mayes (6-5, 335, Van Alstyne, Texas) who is ranked by as the No. 1 center prospect in the nation; Viane Talamaivao (6-3, 285, Corona, Calif./Centennial), who is rated the No. 7 guard; and Damien Mama (6-5, 240, Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), the No. 11-ranked OT.

  • For a complete breakdown on the offensive line prospects believed to be in the Cougars' recruiting orbit so far in this cycle, click to ...

    OT Prospects

    OG Prospects

    C Prospects

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    Join hundreds of Cougs, including President Elson Floyd, in a casual and fun business environment promoting a wide variety of products and services. WSU and NFL great Drew Bledsoe will provide the keynote address and display wines from his Doubleback Winery. The CougsFirst! trade show is free to attend. Register today and bring a friend.

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