The who's who of the 2015 Cougar class

WHEN YOU TAKE a long look at Washington State’s 2015 class, sure, there appears to be quality depth from top to bottom. But who is going to make the quickest impact? Who’s the best athlete? Who’s the fastest? We get out our crystal ball to weigh in on that and more.

There are 24 initial counters in the Washington State 2015 class and although the Cougs still plan to add one more at some point, I'm weighing in now on Mike Leach's group in order to lend the who's who perspective.

Natural leader: The first name that pops into my mind is three-star quarterback Tyler Hilinski. As soon as he committed, he was on the horn recruiting other prospects. He was all over social media after recruits and in talking with him, he definitely has that “it” factor. He’s confident and understands the responsibilities a quarterback must have. Cal came in trying to swoop him away late but he quickly put to rest any rumors of a possible flip, saying he was going to honor his commitment to Mike Leach and his staff and that's that.

Fastest player: When looking at highlight tapes, you’ve got to go with running back James Williams. The Burbank, Calif., product has blazing speed coming out of the backfield and was also a beast on special teams. Williams is coming off a torn ACL in the fall, but he recently told CF.C that he’s doing great in his rehab and can’t wait to get to Pullman in June. I don’t expect his injury to affect his speed once he's completed his rehab.

Best Athlete: Have you seen film for defensive back Shalom Luani? Holy Toledo. He is a freak athlete, no question. He’s fast, physical and can definitely lay the lumber. Safety isn't like corner, there's a longer acclimation period in going from one level to the next but he’s a guy I expect to push for immediate playing time at safety by the latter stages of fall camp.

Most room to grow: I’ve got to go with JUCO wide receiver C.J. Dimry. The 6-6, 205-pounder was a late addition to the class and could turn out to be a diamond in the rough for the Cougs. Dimry is fast and has crazy hops, but his route running needs a little bit of work. He’s not as polished as he will be. However, expect new outside wide receivers coach Graham Harrell to work overtime to get Dimry Pac-12 ready. The California native does not have a redshirt year, so he really needs to hit the ground running when he gets to the Palouse and develop quickly.

Quickest impact: I know it’s not the sexiest pick but I’ve got to go with Matt Abramo. There’s no other way to say it, special teams last year were atrocious and that included the kicking game. So bad were they, Cougar fans were probably reaching out to the NCAA to give Andrew Furney one more year of eligibility. Abramo has a strong right boot and can connect on deep field-goal attempts. You’ve got to figure he gets a long look early on. Abramo also showed he could boot the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs his senior year in high school, an area also in need of improvement for the Cougs.

Best football player: I’ve got to go with Jeremiah Mitchell here. The Riverside City College transfer stands at 6-5, 250-pounds and was ferocious in the junior college trenches. He’s quick for his size and plays jacked-up. Add in his physical hands and I expect him to make noise in the Pac-12 in 2015.

Biggest recruiting fight: Late in the recruiting process, it looked like four-star defensive tackle Thomas Toki was again wavering in his verbal to the Cougs. He was planning on taking official visits to Oklahoma State and Arizona State. But hours before he was to hop on a plane, he had a sit-down with Joe Salave’a. The end result was Toki cancelled both trips and informed CF.C he was 100-percent with WSU. In addition to those two programs, Toki also had offers from UCLA, Cal, Colorado, Oregon State, Utah and others.

Best recruiter: I tried to pick just one, I truly did, but this category demands two names. Running backs coach Jim Mastro ran the recruiting point on no fewer than six of the 24 new Cougs, and none of them wavered let alone flipped: LB Aaron Porter, DE/DT Hunter Mattox, RB James Williams, OL Noah Myers, WR Kyle Sweet and K Matt Abramo. With past "gets" including OL Riley Sorenson, RB Jamal Morrow and wide receivers River Cracraft and Gabe Marks, Mastro has established himself as a premier recruiter under Leach.

Meanwhile, linebackers coach Ken Wilson (pictured above with Hilinski) did one hell of a job this recruiting cycle. Wilson was on fire in California, which included helping land Upland, Calif., teammates Kameron Powell and Hilinski. Wilson was also the point man on Riverside City College players Jeremiah Mitchell and Treshon Broughton, both of whom have been pegged by to provide instant '15 impact. Since he’s been in Pullman, Wilson has been a stud recruiter, no doubt.

Biggest Surprise: LB Nnamdi Oguayo was definitely the biggest surprise for me in this class. He wasn’t on the radar until new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch arrived to Pullman. Grinch had recruited Oguayo while at Missouri. Oguayo, out of Maryland, could use a redshirt season to get Pac-12 ready, but I like the way he uses his hands off the line. He’s a pretty big hitter too, with plenty of upside.

Most Explosive: T.J Fehoko. Normally I’d go with an offensive player for this category, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a high school kid come off the line like Fehoko. He owned Utah offensive lineman throughout his career, recording 77 sacks. And 55 of those came in the last two seasons? Put him to work with Salave’a and watch out.

Mr. Quiet: I feel like people are kind of sleeping on Darrien Molton. The three-star cornerback has excellent cover skills and chose WSU over Cal, Colorado, Duke, Utah, San Diego State and other offers. Fittingly enough, whenever I’d interview him, he was always very courteous and said, “yes sir” quite a bit. He’s a guy who will do his talking on the field. I'm not saying he's going to come in and start as a true freshman but I am saying this: Don’t overlook him. He’s got big potential.

Mr. Swag: In all my conversations with prospects this recruiting cycle, no one spoke with more confidence than Broughton. The three-star CB didn’t mince words when I asked him shortly after he verballed in what he’ll bring to WSU next season. “I do it all,” Broughton said. “I’m a shutdown corner -- who can make plays on the ball and tackle. Like I said, I’m a shutdown guy, period.”

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