Inside Cougar Recruiting with 'Super Dave'

SPOKANE -- There's a reason Mike Leach calls him "Super Dave." Being the Senior Associate Director of Athletics at Washington State, as well as the Chief of Staff for the football program, Dave Emerick covers a whole lot of ground. And Cougar recruiting is at the forefront.

"My job is to be the liaison between the football program and the rest of the department," Emerick told Monday's Spokane Cougar Club luncheon.

He then went on to detail a long list of areas he's responsible for at WSU.

"Don't get me wrong," he explained. "Coach Mike Leach runs the program. He'd just rather spend time watching film and I do the stuff that allows him to do more of that."

It's a relationship that dates back 10 years, when Emerick was the recruiting and football operations intern at the University of Kentucky while Leach was an assistant coach. When Leach left to be head coach at Texas Tech, he brought Emerick with him first as a unit coordinator and then as Director of Player Personnel. For his final two seasons in Lubbock, Emerick held the title of Chief of Staff, but it could just as easily have been something more flashy.

"Mike outlined the job to me," Emerick said. "He said ‘I don't care what you call it. How does Czar of Football strike you?' He finally suggested Chief of Staff."

It was Emerick's role as WSU recruiting coordinator that stirred the most interest Monday.

EMERICK OUTLINED A typical recruiting visit weekend, from picking up players on Saturday and feeding them right away, ("These kids are always hungry," Emerick quipped.). The emphasis, he explained, is to give recruits a strong feel for what being a student-athlete at Washington State is all about.

"We want them to spend time with other players and get a feel for what student life is like," he said. "I know some programs like to take kids out to fancy restaurants, but that's not what their life is going to be like once they get here. They spend time with (Athletics Director) Bill Moos and (President) Dr. (Elson) Floyd and Bill shows them a presentation on the new facilities. They meet with Coach Leach and they meet with their individual position coach."

That's not to say there isn't some fine dining available, however.

"Well, Marriott donated $1.5 million to the hospitality school and they have a fancy restaurant in there and we do use it," Emerick laughed.

The recruiting regimen since Leach arrive in Pullman, Emerick says, is working.

"We have 17 recruits already committed for next year," he said. "Five of them will enroll early and take part in Spring Drills."

(For more on that 17 figure, see below.)

WITH A TOTAL number of 85 scholarship players allowed per program and rosters capped at 105 players, Emerick explained the care that has to be taken with walk on players as well.

"We basically recruit them, too," he said. "We invite them to come in for a visit and we stay in touch with them. They're important. Just look at our offensive line this year. Elliott Bosch, Joe Dahl and Gunnar Eklund, at one time, were walk on players."

NCAA Rules only allow coaches to be on the road recruiting a total of 42 days, so making the most of that time is key. With the Cougars playing Thursday night on ESPN against Arizona State, the coaching staff already is in mid-week mode, Emerick said. But with a bye week coming up next week, the coaching staff will get in some serious time out on the recruiting trail next week.

"We send three coaches to where we play on the road a few days early to get in some recruiting ahead of our game," Emerick said. "We send Jim Mastro, Dennis Simmons and Paul Volero down on the Wednesday before our game and they meet up with us at the hotel on Friday.

"We're able to spend some time there and make some inroads. We get to the Seattle area quite a bit as well."

ASU COMES TO Pullman Thursday and because Emerick spent two seasons at Arizona before joining Leach in Pullman, Arizona State feels a bit like a rivalry game. But for someone else on the WSU staff, it's more than that.

"I don't hate Arizona State quite as much as Joe Salave'a, though. For him, this is something special," said Emerick.

Emerick did not talk about specific recruits in Spokane per NCAA rules but through our contacts and in trying to read the tea leaves, believes that figure of 17 breaks down this way -- 14 known verbal commits plus three others delaying their enrollment at WSU until January from the 2013 recruiting class pool – CB Markell Sanders, CB Marcellus Pippins and BUCK/DL Dylan Hanser. A fourth who was in the same situation, RB Olito Thompson, is not believed to have yet fulfilled academic requirements according to a CF.C prep source in California. In addition to the above trio, WR Calvin Green is on pace to graduate from high school early to join the Cougs in January, and junior college cornerback Joseph Turner in on track to receive his AA in December with three-to-play-two.

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