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Recruiting: Keep an eye on Mastro trio in 2016 class

MIKE LEACH’s recruiting class won’t be complete until Feb. 3 and it’ll be years later before a verdict is rendered on its success. But for those trying to read the tea leaves, keep an eye on this trio: LB Chima Onyeukwu (who visited this past weekend) safety Robert Taylor and o-lineman Christian Haangana. Why these three? Because Jim Mastro is the area recruiter. And Mastro has a history at WSU.

Z Gabe Marks, center Riley Sorenson, Y River Cracraft, running back Jamal Morrow, H Robert Lewis and safety Suli Hameed all started in their first or second season at WSU, despite being lightly recruited by other schools.  Slot receiver Brett Bartolone, who medically retired before this season, is also in that group. 

All come from the same general area; from Orange County north through LA to San Luis Obispo County.  And Mastro was the Cougs’ primary recruiter on all of them.

Now look to this last WSU class, where a whopping six were Mastro area recruits.  Kyle Sweet as a true freshman offered late season evidence he could be the Cougs’ next great slot receiver.  Running back James Williams spent his first season redshirting -- and tormenting -- the defense during Thursday Night Football (and the 1s and 2s at times as well). 

JUCO transfer LB Aaron Porter hasn’t had the type of season some thought he would in his rookie campaign with the Cougs in ‘15.  But his versatility is such that it wouldn’t be a surprise if, with a year now under his belt, it all starts to come together for him in ’16. Also redshirting this past season were DE/DT Hunter Mattox, OL Noah Osur-Myers and K Matt Abramo.  

Mattox figures to make the upcoming d-line battles this spring and on into fall camp interesting.  Osur-Myers is one of two true freshman o-linemen redshirting who look most capable of challenging the incumbents in ‘16 (along with Cedric Bigge-Duren) and for the vacated left guard spot by Gunnar Eklund’s graduation. Abramo will compete with starting kicker Erik Powell after a season where Abramo was bitten by the injury bug.

Meanwhile, Onyeukwu, Taylor and Haangana are all expected to sign Feb. 3 with Washington State, and this is something a little different for Mastro in that two of the three,  Onyeukwu and Taylor, are junior college recruits. Both defensenem are expected to challenge for starting jobs in their first season at Washington State.

With Haangana, WSU defensive assistant David Lose also played a key role. But Mastro has been recruiting him for two years.

We’ve talked to enough Mastro commits to know it’s about how he builds a relationship with them over time. Onyeukwu and other Mastro “gets” have verballed before they ever visit WSU. After they come to WSU on their official visit, they say the “family feel” they’ve been hearing about from Mastro becomes that much more real.

Leach makes the final call on who WSU offers. It no doubt helps that Mastro long been known as a heck of an evaluator.

In his 11 seasons at Nevada as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. Mastro was leaned on heavily by both Chris Ault and Chris Tormey in evaluating prospects. From 2011-2013, nine Nevada players were taken in the NFL Draft.

“The one thing about Jim that gets overlooked is what a great evaluator of talent he is,” then-Nevada coach Ault said when Mastro was named the national Running Backs Coach of the Year by FootballScoop.com in 2010.

For the 2016 class verbal commit list: CLICK HERE.


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