WSU Recruiting: In-depth with DB Willie Sykes

DEFENSIVE BACK WILLIE SYKES out of Spring, Texas hasn't made up his mind yet, and there remain two other schools alongside Washington State in his top three. But in talking with the 6-0, 180 pounder, it's clear the visit he took to WSU this past weekend couldn't have gone any better.

Sykes out of Spring High called his visit to Pullman "amazing," and said he felt a good vibe with the Cougar players.

Beyond the players, though, it was the Cougar coaches that Sykes mentioned first.

"Coach (Mike) Leach, man, he's one of those big-name coaches. There's a couple of big-name coaches around the country, like the face of a team and he's one of them," Sykes said. "He was real good to meet. He's a cool, laid-back dude. All the coaches were great."

One of those coaches: new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. He came to WSU with a strong recruiting reputation at Missouri. And Grinch also coached David Johnson at Mizzou, Sykes' former Spring High teammate and a good friend.

Sykes also had high praise for Jarrail Jackson, WSU's director of player relations who had been serving temporarily as an assistant coach out on the recruiting trail while the Cougs made their assistant coach hires. Jackson was Sykes' area recruiter when he hit the road back on Dec. 1.

Sykes, rated two-stars on, said Purdue and Nebraska are also vying for his pledge and are the other schools in his top three. Sykes said the presence of a new defensive coordinator at WSU figures to make the competition for a starting spot that much more wide open.

Sykes also said that with Leach bringing in top wide receivers to play in his Air Raid offense, that will only serve to make him a better and improve his game. Sykes said one of his top considerations on his visits is trying to see which school in his mind can help him most in achieving his goal of playing in the NFL.

Sykes plans one more official visit, to Nebraska, this weekend. Sykes said he will then sit down, weigh the pros and cons and probably make the call before Jan. 31.

This week will also be important to his decision-making. He said he expects to have in-home visits with Washington State, Purdue and Nebraska between now and Friday.

WSU's membership in the Pac-12 conference stands out to Sykes, similar to how he would enjoy playing for Purdue and Nebraska because of the Big Ten and Big 12, respectively. And Sykes said he likes his chances of being able to earn early playing time at all three schools.

Sykes said Purdue has been recruiting him the hardest. Meanwhile, he said he very much likes the idea of playing defensive back at Nebraska because of their "blackshirts" tradition.

"I'm a guy like that, who likes to play with swag," Sykes said.

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