Tales from the WSU recruiting trail

I CAN TELL you first hand the WSU coaches were not the only ones hard at work this recruiting cycle. As things come to a close, it was one hell of a ride covering these youngsters. Some will be donning a Coug uniform next season, while others won't. Through it all, there were highs and lows, which included the tangible signs of advancing age.

It's been said that recruiting is a cut-throat business and competition for players has never been higher. This was my first full year covering recruiting for CF.C and let me tell you, it was never boring. There were never any slow days.

Just a little over a month ago, I was at my parents' house for Christmas and went to wash up before dinner, I couldn't help but notice I had a pair of gray eyebrow hairs. I immediately thought this was the beginning of the end. My dad tried explaining to me this is normal for a 24-year old, but I had my own explanation.


Here are some notes and anecdotes that stood out over the past year covering Cougar recruiting.

1) Although the majority of prospects are straight shooters about their offer sheets and what schools have been contacting them, there's always that one guy who likes to, shall we say, be creative. I had a kid who wasn't even in the Scout.com database try tell me he had offers from WSU, UW, USC and Cal, with several SEC schools showing interest. There was absolutely no inkling of a trail anywhere to suggest this was true.

He added that he was planning an official visit to Washington State and had been speaking with the head coach frequently. I asked him what he thought of Mike Leach and his reply spoke volumes: "Who?" That was the last time we spoke.

2) After interviewing one prospect, his dad jumped on the phone and asked to be interviewed about what he thought about his son's recruitment. He went on about what he (the dad) liked about each school and official visit. A little perspective is great but his was over the top. I was thinking to myself 'pops, your glory days were in the 80s.'

3) One thing I did enjoy this year was how respectful most of the guys were. I'd say about 80 percent of the recruits I spoke with always referred to me as "sir" and would always end their answers with "sir." That was refreshing. You often hear people talk about this being the "entitled" generation. I certainly didn't come away with that impression from talking with these kids.

4) Still, there were a few who were closer to rude than respectful. The worst was a kid who had a friend screen me with a whole series of questions like he was a publicist for an Oscar-winning movie star. I couldn't believe it. Not surprisingly, the prospect himself, when he finally got on the phone, was difficult to deal with. He didn't commit to WSU and Cougar Nation should be thankful.

5) I can't tell you how many times I heard prospects utter the phrase "I'm 100-percent committed." It came from both WSU pledges and verbals to other schools. One, in particular, stands out. The kid was verbally committed (not to WSU) when I spoke with him earlier this fall and he said he was "100 percent" with his school. I kid you not, about five minutes later when I logged on to Twitter, he announced that he was decommitting from stated school and going to a different one. I was shocked, but unfortunately, the decommitting/flipping seemed to be somewhat of a (growing) trend throughout college ball this season.

6) Speaking of Twitter, it was a great source to track down information on recruits. At the same time, it was a nightmare. I had to unfollow some recruits because they fired off about 1,000 tweets a day and it was all just meaningless dribble. Some of these kids need to rewind to the mid 1990s and get a journal.

7) Oh, before I forget, if a recruit says "I'll call you back in five minutes," that means he'll take longer than Tom Hanks to return home in the movie Castaway. I had one kid actually take two weeks to get back to me for an interview. He texted me almost everyday in between saying "I'll call tonight." It was funny, but frustrating at the same time.

8) Don't call a prep coach during dinner. I made the mistake of calling a coach at about 6 p.m. to get insights on one of his guys and he let me have it. "I'm with my family right now. You media people don't think there's a better (expletive) time to call than 6 p.m. on a Wednesday?!" He hung up the phone and thought to myself, "if he didn't want to interrupt his dinner, why did he bother answering?" I called back the following Wednesday at 5:55 p.m. Kidding. I never called back.

9) Another thing that stood out to me was how much praise prospects had for the Cougar staff. This included verbals and guys who committed elsewhere. Over and over I heard "love" and "Washington State" in the same sentence. Not just from players, but parents as well. I had one dad tell me "Hell, if my kid doesn't go to Washington State then I'll suit up for them."

10) I've concluded that the old expression that kids need to commit to a school, not a coach, is a quaint idea that holds little sway in this day and age. A quick look around the coaching carousel proves as much. Six players in the class the UW is expected to unveil this week were previously committed to Boise State, and a handful of USC's new guys were previously committed to UW. Vanderbilt offers another prime example. They were cooking along with a top 25 recruiting class and then head coach James Franklin moved to Penn State, taking key recruits with him. Vandy is now No. 71 on the Scout.com list.

There you have it Coug fans. It was an interesting ride in 2014, but the coverage doesn't stop there. Washington State is already hard at work for the class of 2015 and CF.C will be ready to provide you with all the coverage. I just hope the 17-year old "publicists" and the additions of unwanted gray hairs are kept to a minimum.

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