New blood leads to new WSU recruiting dynamic

FOUR COUGAR assistant coaches were on the spring recruiting trail for Washington State for the first time in May. In talking to three of the veteran WSU assistant coaches, the difference is pronounced.

Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, outside receivers coach Graham Harrell, outside linebackers coach Roy Manning and special teams coach Eric Mele have helped created a new recruiting dynamic at Washington State.

So say Ken Wilson, Jim Mastro and Clay McGuire.

“With the new coaches that we’ve got here and with them on the road, we’ve got a bunch of young guys. At the end of last year until now, it is the hardest working, best group of recruiters I’ve ever worked with,” said Wilson, a 21-year coaching veteran who has a pretty high energy level himself.

“They recruit with such great energy,” said Mastro of the new assistants. “That’s the thing about those guys. And it’s competitive, that’s what recruiting is, you go out and compete. Those guys and their personalities and their work ethic, they have definitely made our staff (stronger) in the recruiting world I believe.”

McGuire, who has spent 12 seasons on a Mike Leach staff, said the new blood has manifested itself in other areas too.

“We had a lot of energy, intensity and competition in spring ball -- we had a great spring ball. And I think it’s carried over into recruiting," said McGuire. "I feel like everyone is working to the same goals of consistency, winning seasons, winning bowl games and preparing ourselves to win a Pac-12 championship."

The Cougs didn’t sign a recruit from the state of Washington this past class, thought to be a program first. While you can’t build a Pac-12 program from the 12-15 Pac-12-type prospects a year in Washington no signees made for a conspicuous absence. The quality of the scout team, an undervalued tool to success, will usually feature a lot of in-state walk on talent as well. But Mastro sees good things on the horizon when it comes to in-state talent and WSU.

“Having Eric in the Northwest is huge for us,” said Mastro. “He’s such a thorough, hard-working presence. We’ll touch so many more people in the Northwest now having him focused in that area. Already we’ve seen the benefits of that with the kids in the Northwest we’re identifying as sophomores and juniors. And it’s because Eric works so hard at it and takes pride in recruiting and in his job. That’s huge for us.”

Wilson, who hooked up with some of the new guys during the spring evaluation period, says the new coaches have made a difference in both the quantity and quality of players WSU is going after.

“We’ve got so many more names on the board and we’re in on so many more recruiting battles than we have been in the last couple of years,” said Wilson. “We are saturated with evaluation and that can do nothing but help us.

“It’s a good time to be a coach on the road knowing you’ve got Alex, Roy… Graham, Eric out on the road. You’ve got a bunch of guys who are hungry to get out there, work together and find players. It’s been very cohesive. And that’s fun for me.”

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