THE TRUE MEASURE of any recruiting class isn't possible until a few years out. So as Signing Day 2014 draws near, what better time to go back four years and revisit Washington State's 2010 class of recruits and see how they panned out. Then-head coach Paul Wulff dubbed the group "As good as a class that has come here," and his statement was echoed by no less an authority than Mike Levenseller.
In all, the Cougs signed 24 players on LOI Day 2010 – three JC guys and 21 prepsters – and then added two more JCs in the spring.
Of the 26, what's notable when comparing them to the six WSU classes that preceded is how many made it on campus and then stuck around once there. There were just three no-shows in the class, and of the rest only four left the program before making meaningful contributions. That's a 70-percent stick rate, far better than one usually sees. Of course, there were also four notable departures of established players (Bobby Ratliff, last week, being the latest), but it's misleading to count them as casualties because their contributions while in uniform were significant.
AT THE TIME THE CLASS
was unveiled, the two biggest catches were thought to be tight end Aaron Dunn and linebacker C.J. Mizell. Both were rated 4 stars, with Dunn tabbed the ninth-best tight end prospect in the nation, and Mizell a Signing Day shocker who the year before had turned down Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier to sign with Bobby Bowden at Florida State.
As it turned out, Dunn was undone almost from the beginning by injuries and ultimately by the Air Raid offense. Mizell started 15 games and played in six others over two seasons and looked to have a high upside, but off-field issues tried the patience of coaches and ultimately landed him out of the program.
Meanwhile, the 102nd-rated safety prospect in the nation in the 2010 recruiting cycle and the 96th-rated receiver turned into superstars for the Cougars.
Deone Bucannon never redshirted and started for four seasons at WSU, capping his run with All-America honors this past season. He figures to go no later than the third round in April's NFL draft. And while Marquess Wilson left Pullman under a cloud, he shattered WSU's receiving record book in his three years as a starter.
Those four players -- Dunn, Mizell, Bucannon and Wilson -- serve as a microcosm of the uneven outcome that the 2010 class yielded.
Here's the complete run down on all 26:
DL Toni Pole - Has started 15 games over the last two seasons and still has one year of eligibility remaining. Will be forever remembered for 2012 Apple Cup interception and return in overtime.
DL Xavier Cooper – He grayshirted in 2010, redshirted in 2011, and then broke into the starting lineup midway through 2012 and has never left. Finished in the top 10 in the Pac-12 in 2013 in tackles for loss. Still has two more years of eligibility and would appear on path for a good shot at the NFL.
DL Steven Hoffart. The Butte College transfer appeared in 12 games, starting four, during his redshirt senior season in 2012. Redshirted in 2011 and played in seven games in 2010.
DL Al Lapuaho – Never arrived. A JC transfer, he ran into delays getting academic clearance to WSU so returned to Snow JC for one more season and then transferred to Utah State. Had brief stint with Miami Dolphins and last week signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
LB C.J. Mizell – The biggest signing day surprise for WSU since Michael Bumpus in 2004, Mizell cracked the starting lineup midway through his true freshman season and proceeded to start another nine games in 2011. But shortly after Mike Leach's arrival he was dismissed from team for an off-field incident. Attended Tallahassee Community College for a year. Now playing for Akron.
LB Eric Oertel – The 2009 Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year played as a true freshman in 2010, mostly on special teams. Was a running back his first two seasons at WSU and then switched to linebacker in 2012, posting 35 tackles in 12 games. Played in nine games in 2013. Was named Cougar co-special teams player of the year in 2011.
DB Deone Bucannon – Burst onto the crimson scene as a true freshman, earning 2010 defensive player of the year honors and capped his career in 2013 with first-team All-America plaudits from AP and others. Ranks fourth on WSU's career tackles list and third on career interceptions list. First Cougar to be named first-team AP All-American since Jerome Harrison in 2005 and first WSU defensive player to do so since Rien Long in 2002.
CB Damante Horton – Started 29 games in Cougar career and earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in 2013. He turned in the defensive play of the year in 2013 with a pick six in thrilling 10-7 upset of USC in week two.
CB Tracy Clark – Played in three game this past season, two in 2012, and 11 in 2011, mostly on special teams. Has one year of eligibility remaining.
CB Brandon Golden – Redshirted in 2010, played in all 12 games in 2011 on special teams, and didn't play a down in 2012 before transferring to Idaho State this past season.
DB Tyrone Duckett -- Redshirted in 2010, appeared in 11 games in 2011, primarily on special teams, and left the program early in the 2012 season. Now at Sacramento State.
DB Matt Simmons -- Redshirted in 2010, appeared in eight games in 2011, mainly on special teams, and left the program early in the 2012 season.
QB Connor Halliday – Rated the No. 25 QB prospect in the 2010 recruiting cycle, he became the Cougars' full-time starter in 2013 after sharing time with Jeff Tuel in 2012. Passed for more than 4,500 yards in 2013 and could be a national honors candidate in 2014 if he cuts down on the 22 interceptions he threw in '13.
OL John Fullington – Started 43 straight games for the Cougars after earning a spot with the first string midway through his true freshman season. Earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors as a sophomore in 2011.
OL David Gonzales – Came to WSU from Fresno City College and stepped right in to the starting lineup, at left tackle. Made seven starts in 2010 before going down with an injury. As a senior in 2011, he started all 12 games and was earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors. Had a free-agent tryout with the 49ers.
OL Wade Jacobson – A JC transfer who was granted a medical redshirt year, he appeared in 27 games for the Cougs, starting 25 of them, between 2010 and 2012. Had a free-agent tryout with the Redskins.
OL Jake Rodgers -- Started all 12 games as a third-year sophomore for the Cougs in 2012, seeing action at both guard and tackle. Also started one game in 2011. Surprised Cougar Nation with decision to transfer to Eastern Washington for the 2013 season.
TE Aaron Dunn – Foiled by injuries, he redshirted in 2010 and made one start in 2011 before transferring to Western Washington in 2012 to play basketball when it became clear a traditional tight end had no place in Mike Leach's Air Raid.
RB Rickey Galvin – Led Cougars in rushing with 602 yards in 2011, missed all but three games with injury in 2012 after moving to receiver, and this past season was second on the team in all-purpose yards (311 on 39 passes receptions and 537 in kickoff returns). Has one season of eligibility remaining. Had earned a starting spot at RB as a true freshman in 2010 but broke his arm on first carry of first game and redshirted.
RB Devontae Butler-Booker – Never arrived as he ran into academic hurdles. Signed with Fresno State in 2011 but tripped up by clearinghouse issues and never played.
WR Isiah Barton – The lone skill player in the 2010 class from the JC ranks, he had a team-leading1 604 all-purpose yards as a senior in 2011. In his two seasons at WSU he set school records for career kickoff returns (67) and career kickoff return yards (1,578).
WR Bobby Ratliff – Recently announced he would forgo his fifth year of eligibility in 2014 after catching 85 passes for 990 yards as a part-time starter from 2011-2013.
WR Kristoff Williams – Turned in a banner 2013 season with 51 catches (third-most on team) for 490 yards and two TDs. Caught 22 passes in 2012 and 9 in 2011. Redshirted in 2010. Has one season of eligibility left.
WR Marquess Wilson – Left WSU in a well-publicized huff with three games left in his 2012 junior season. But also left his mark on the WSU record book with 189 career receptions for 3,207 yards and 23 touchdowns. Now with the Chicago Bears.
WR Blair Bomber – Earned scout team offensive player of the year honors as a redshirting true freshman in 2010 but then tore up a knee and missed all of 2011 season. Left program early in the 2012 season in search of playing time and now lines up for Eastern Washington.
WR Robert Jiles – Never arrived, rerouting to Glennville State College.
"Here, four years after the fact, this class has withstood the test of time," says CF.C recruiting analyst emeritus Jack Evans. "WSU gets very high marks for this group. The overall talent was really quite good, with a handful of guys who became stars and a lot who were very solid -- and some, like Xavier Cooper, who are still developing. Attrition took a toll, but not horribly so... I don't think you can say the class was the best in Cougar history, as Wulff and Levenseller predicted, but there is no doubt whatsoever that it was a group that truly helped turn the program around."
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