A MAJOR shift in WSU recruiting strategy

WASHINGTON STATE IS taking a new, bold and very different strategy when it comes to recruiting this season, Cougfan.com has learned. And fans will likely notice it as soon as this weekend when the Cougars play host to Wyoming (Saturday at 5:30 p.m./Pac-12 Network).

The number of official visitors on game weekends in Pullman for the 2016 class will be extremely limited, prep and junior college sources, and WSU verbal commitments, tell CF.C.

There will be a few - and possibly zero - visitors on game weekends. Instead, the vast majority of the 2016 class official visitors to Washington State will not be coming to town until December and January.

It must have been a tough call. The weather in early fall on the Palouse is spectacular. And the charged atmosphere surrounding a Cougar game is of course a huge selling point for the WSU coaches.

But in considering all angles and the recent past, you can see why Mike Leach decided to go in this direction.

WSU lost a lot of pledges after January 15 in their most recent recruiting class, including those who had already taken their official trip to Wazzu.

One WSU assistant coach CF.C talked with this spring felt WSU lost verbal commitments in the '15 class in large part because prospects didn’t get to spend enough time with Leach, the assistant coaches nor the Cougar players due to the nature of WSU game week – something exacerbated by the fact the Cougs stay in Lewiston on Friday nights before home games.

That sentiment was echoed in recent CF.C conversations with WSU verbal DE pledge Mason Vinyard, and also uncommitted prospects with a Washington State offer like CB Lawrence White (who will trip to WSU in January with another undecided prospect with a crimson offer, RB Romello Harris).

"I'm hoping to take my visit in early January -- I was going to try and go sooner, but the coaches don't want guys to visit during the season, Vinyard said. "They lost like eight or nine commits last season, so they're using a new strategy this year so they can spend more time with guys."

"Romello and I and tried to set up our visit, but coach wants us to take it January because the coaches get to interact with us more and he said we will get a better feel," said White.

From a bottom line perspective: as great an experience as 2015 class verbal pledges had at Wazzu during the season, as much as they continued to say they were 100 percent crimson, that didn’t stop those prospects from flipping over the final three weeks before Signing Day.

And so Leach, with 14 known verbals in the ’16 class, will focus on December-January when it comes to recruiting visits.

It’s bold, no question about it. It’s risk vs. reward.

It also shows how recruiting is ever-changing and that Leach is changing with it. ‘How did the game visits help us last class?’ was surely a question posed often during WSU staff meetings this offseason. And the answer was such that WSU is going in a very new direction for the 2016 class.

WSU’s official visit calendar figures to be stuffed into five weekends in December and January: The first two weekends in December are open before recruiting shuts down for the holidays and major bowl season. The weekend visits start back up again on Jan. 15, with three weekends left before Signing Day on Feb. 3.

The off campus, in-home visit period open on Nov. 29 this year. Washington State’s final regular season game is the Apple Cup, held on Nov. 27.

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