Casting early eye on WSU 2016 QB recruiting

THERE ARE TWO known Washington State offers out to Class of 2016 quarterback prospects. But that’s not nearly the most interesting nugget when it comes to considering Cougar QB recruiting and the ’16 crop.

Quarterbacks Malik Henry out of Bradenton, Fla. (6-2, 175) and local product Jacob Eason out of Lake Stevens (6-5, 205) hold the two known ’16 offers from WSU. They are verbally committed to Florida State and Georgia, respectively, and while verbal commitments aren’t binding they’re considered long shots to come WSU’s way. So who might the Cougs gain a verbal pledge from?

If prior years are any indication, this week and next figure to be key to determining that.

That’s because Mike Leach in the past has typically used this week and next on the calendar to delve headlong into the tape of about 15-20 quarterback prospects, the vast majority of whom the Cougs have already been tracking for more than a year.

That QB tape study in mid-to-late February by the Cougars’ head man, now that the 2015 crop is signed, represents a key component in who will get offered by WSU – provided one of the “no-brainer” QB offerees already out there (Henry, Eason) doesn’t suddenly have a change of heart.

Putting scholie offers on the table for QBs has been different than other positions – while a school might have multiple offers out to say, running backs, you can usually count the Cougar QB offers out there at any given time on one hand. It’s been historically important to many QB prospects to know they’re “the guy.” It’s also a balancing act because at the end of the day, the school has to get their QB and they generally have to get him early, in the spring or early summer before his senior season.

Last year, the Cougs waited on Brett Rypien to make his choice before making additional offers. Once it became clear the first week in April he wasn’t going to go crimson, Leach offered two quarterbacks the very next day: Tyler Hilinski and Brady White. Hilinski verbally committed a couple weeks later to Wazzu.

While 2016 could follow a similar timeline, the guess here is WSU will extend a new QB offer (or two) sooner this year because Henry and Eason are already pledged - the guess here is probably by mid-March and as soon as next week.

Leach doesn't care nearly as much about size as he does other attributes, such as accuracy and decision-making skills. (Arm strength and being able to run the ball are well down on Leach's list, too.) With that in mind, here are three who could be on Leach’s radar as he works his way through mountains of tape:

Devon Modster (6-1, 210) Las Flores, Calif. / Tesoro High
Described by as poised, accurate and with the zip to fit the ball into small windows, Modster threw for 2,602 hashes and 24 touchdowns against nine interceptions this past season. Arguing against a possible WSU offer is that he’s considered a dual-threat type, he rushed 133 times for 680 yards and 12 TDs in 2014. Leach isn’t nearly as concerned with mobility as he is other attributes. That said, given his other skills, being able to extend passing plays outside the pocket in the Air Raid could be seen as a bonus when it comes to Modster.

Ian Book (6-0, 170) El Dorado Hills, Calif. / Oak Ridge High
A pocket passer who can extend plays, he holds an offer from Boise State and is hearing from Pac-12 programs such as ASU, UCLA and Cal. This past season he was 155 of 248 for 2,025 yards with 18 TDs and seven interceptions. As a sophomore, he passed for 2,558 yards and 31 touchdowns against only five interceptions.

Harley Kirsch (pictured above; 6-3, 205) Sammamish / Eastside Catholic High
He led his team to the 3A title this season, shocking perennial champ Bellevue 35-13 and ending their 67-game winning streak. His prep coach is old Coug Jeremy Thielbahr, under whom he already has three years’ experience as a starting QB. As a junior, he threw for 3,100 yards on 218 of 307 passing (71 percent) with 38 TDs against 10 interceptions. His career passing percentage is 70.1 percent and he’s thrown for 6,995 yards with 77 TDs vs. 15 picks.

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