A healthy 60 percent of Washington State’s signing class is expected to be made up of California prospects (15). The next closest state, Washington, accounts for just over 10 percent of the class (3). WSU’s spot recruiting of other states (such as Florida, Nevada, Hawaii, Oklahoma and Utah) fills out the rest of the class.
The strengths of Mike Leach’s 2016 class in our view are found on the offensive line (great feet) at wide receiver (athleticism) and in the increased speed on defense.
The average star rating of the class is 2.77 on Scout.com.
Out of the five prospects with 2-star ratings, JUCO safety Robert Taylor and ATH/DB D'Jimon Jones might be the most worthy of raised eyebrows.
Taylor in our view has an excellent chance to come into fall camp and earn a starting job – and his skills set would in turn allow Shalom Luani to move to strong safety where Luani (also in our view) has the chance to have to greatest impact. Jones is simply uber-athletic and now that he’ll concentrate on just one sport, and one position, his potential ceiling jumps higher.
As we’ve noted this past week, the big defensive takeaway of the class is increased speed. Along with Taylor at safety, linebacker Chima Onyeukwu at the WIL should make WSU faster at those two spots than last season.
No, we won’t know for sure until they get on the field against live competition but our initial look indicates the Cougs’ speed at linebacker, d-end and in the defensive backfield should receive an infusion of quicks from this class.
Increasing speed usually comes at the expense of size. Last year’s class featured 16 signees listed by Scout.com at 200 pounds or less. This year’s crop has 19.
The 2015 signing class featured nine at 250 pounds or more. The 2016 crop has six.
But the class does look to have the frames to put on the bulk. The 2016 class features eight listed at 6-4 or better, with 13 at 6-3 or taller. Last year, there were nine and 11, respectively.
(By the way, we use 6-3 as one benchmark because any shorter, it becomes increasingly difficult to produce a top-notch Pac-12 o-lineman. It can be done, and some players are just special, but it’s a pretty good o-line rule of thumb in the Pac-12).
WSU's expected signing class:
Projected to sign: 3-4
Signings/Verbal Commits: DE Danny Bender, 2 stars; (6-4, 220); DE Garrett McBroom, 2 stars; (6-3, 266); DE Lyric Bartley, 3-stars; (6-4, 240).
Undecided: DT Wayne Kirby out of Pocatello (6-3, 302) is reportedly deciding between WSU, Oregon and Utah.
Projected to sign: 4
Verbal Commits: Chima Onyeukwu, 3 stars; (6-3, 220); Jihad Woods, 3 stars; (5-11, 215); Derek Moore, 3 stars; (6-1, 220); Rush Mason Vinyard, 3 stars; (6-4, 220).
Projected to sign: 5
Signings/Verbal Commits: CB Jalen Thompson, 3-stars; (5-10, 170); CB/N Skyler Thomas, 3-stars; (5-11, 170); CB Isaiah Love, 3 stars; (5-11, 165); CB Marcus Strong, 3 stars; (5-11, 160); S Robert Taylor, 2 stars; (5-11, 180).
Signings/Verbal Commits: Justus Rogers, 3 stars; (6-2, 210); D'Jimon Jones, 2 stars; (6-2, 175). (Rogers [QB/S/LB]; Jones [CB/WR])
Undecided: Tayler Hawkins out of Palm Springs, Calif., is deciding between WSU and SDSU.
Projected to sign: (0)
Verbal Commits: None
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Projected to sign: 1-2
Verbal Commits: Romello Harris, 3 stars; (5-10, 175)
Undecided: Zion Echols out of Covina, Calif., is deciding between WSU and Cal.
Projected to sign: 4
Signings/Verbal Commits: Dezmon Patmon, 3 stars; (6-3, 200); Isaiah Johnson, 3 stars; (6-3, 204); Renard Bell, 3 stars; (5-10, 160); Grant Porter, 3 stars; (6-0, 175).
Projected to sign: 5-6
Verbal Commits: Keenen King, 3 stars; (6-4, 302); Christian Haangana, 3 stars; (6-6, 347); Joshua Watson, 2 stars; (6-5, 270); Liam Ryan, 2 stars; (6-6, 270); Nilsson Gaisoa, NR, (6-5, 275).
Undecided: Frederick Mauigoa out of Pago Pago is deciding between WSU and OSU.
Logan Tuley-Tillman (transfer) is verbally committed to WSU but is said to be looking around and isn’t expected to transfer from Michigan until June.
--By the way, there is both size and speed at wideout in this class. Close followers of WSU recruiting are highly intrigued with 6-3 wideouts Johnson and Patmon. Porter was a good get for WSU back in the summer. But keep Bell in mind too, his speed makes him a touchdown waiting to happen.
--Johnson, Rogers, Thompson and McBroom have already enrolled at WSU, going through offseason conditioning and will take part in spring drills.