Will Cougs fill their needs this recruiting class?

THERE ARE STILL moves to come, with four known Washington State offerees yet to make their decision and with Signing Day not quite upon us. But barring any major changes between now and when the fax machine cranks up Wednesday morning, here is the early takeaway on how well the Cougs filled their needs.

The Cougs look to have made their biggest marks on the o-line, at wide receiver, linebacker, corner and safety.  WSU receives high marks here.

The two holes, and they are not insignificant, are at defensive tackle and quarterback. 

What should Cougar fans feel good about? 

WSU clearly made it an emphasis this class to get faster on defense. They went after playmakers on the offensive side of the ball (as usual) and snagged a number of recruits with high ceilings. And the o-line figures to see the biggest influx. At the end of the day, we project WSU to bring 6-7 offensive linemen on board. And that's always welcome news when it comes to recruiting.

WSU needed o-linemen -- and they got ‘em.  Four of the six known commits are listed by Scout.com at 6-6 or better, with the shortest listed at 6-4.  Mike Leach always wants to take at least five OL so it makes sense for the Cougs to take at least six this class after one failed to qualify last year (Joseph Price). And Frederick Mauigoa’s decision is still to come (deciding between WSU and OSU). 

For the moment, we’re also including Tuley-Tillman in the count though he’s a transfer. But he's been visiting other schools and in looking at Twitter the past month his choice seems in doubt. Whether he ultimately comes aboard with WSU might not be known for certain until June, when he is scheduled to graduate from Michigan).

Defensemen who will help upgrade WSU’s speed immediately in 2016 include LB Chima Onyeukwu and S Robert Taylor, both junior college transfers. Their potential impact can't be overstated to a defense that needs to continue to improve on the gains made in DC Alex Grinch's first year in Pullman.

There are other WSU pledges in both the linebacker corps and defensive backfield who should also help WSU get faster, although they might understandably need some seasoning and a redshirt year before they’re ready to significantly contribute.

From the big picture perspective, WSU on defense this class looks to be bringing in dynamic, fast players on board. 

There are four known WR pledges/signings expected on Wednesday and it’s not hard to see any of the four competing for playing time their true freshmen seasons.

Isaiah Johnson is already enrolled and participating in offseason conditioning (as are ATH/QB Justus Rogers, CB Jalen Thompson and JUCO DE Garrett McBroom).

There are, however, two big holes in the class. 

The quarterback recruiting has been well documented. From an opinion-forming standpoint, every media outlet in the country is likely to point out WSU and Leach didn't land a QB.  The reality is that if WSU takes a hit here at some point, it probably won’t come in 2016.  But that's not going to decrease the number of mentions on Signing Day.

And there’s no getting around that is has been the strangest quarterback recruiting cycle in Washington State history.

There are some CougFans who are more concerned with the d-tackle recruiting, and they have good reason. 

Top-notch d-tackles are hard to find in the best of times.

They also take time to develop – see Destiny Vaeao. 

With no known d-tackle types on board this class, the logical inference is WSU needs the current roster wide bodies to stay healthy in both 2016 and 2017 AND to perform at a high level.

That's certainly doable, but it really decreases the margin for error.

There’s a lot to like in the class, as noted above.  There are also those who have been overshadowed by others at their position in the recruiting class in large part because they verballed early – guys like WR Renard Bell. He has the speed and skill set to make an early impact his first fall camp. 

And who knows. Maybe WSU has a surprise in store yet for alumni and fans when it comes to DT and QB recruiting -- the fax machines haven't started yet.

NOTABLE NOTE:
WSU fans are still waiting on decisions from Mauigoa, ATH Tayler Hawkins, ATH/RB Zion Echols and DT Wayne Kirby. The general perception heading into Signing Day is that Mauigoa and Hawkins appear the two most likely to go crimson.

WSU commit list

RELATED STORY: The case for Wazzu NOT to take a QB this class


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