CF.C takeaways from Mike Leach, Dave Emerick at Washington State recruiting event

SEATTLE – Fans of linebacker play could be in for a treat this season at Washington State. That was one of the CF.C takeaways from head man Mike Leach and football chief of staff Dave Emerick at the team’s “A Night With Cougar Football” event in Seattle.

Early contributors
Both Leach and Emerick pointed to linebackers Chima Onyeukwu (Contra Costa CC, pictured above) and Suliasi Tamaivena (Mt. San Antonio CC) as junior college transfers that could find their way on the field quickly on defense.

Leach had especially high praise for Onyeukwu, telling the 500-plus attendees that the linebacker was “strong and explosive” and “looks like a Saturday morning cartoon character.”

In a conversation with CF.C at the event, Emerick also highlighted wide receivers Isaiah Johnson and Dezmon Patmon as young players on the offensive side of the ball that could also be seen early and often next season.

“The junior college kids are obviously here to play right away,” Emerick said. “Chima and Suli are guys that should play right away. You never know how they’re going to adjust to college and to the speed of the game right away, but Dezmon Patmon and Isaiah Johnson are two big physical receivers that we think might have a chance to play right away.”

2017 class offers
Emerick said WSU currently has between 95-100 offers on the table for the 2017 class, a similar amount to the number out at this time last year.

“We’re probably pretty similar to last year (numbers-wise),” Emerick said. “By the time we get into the season that number gets closer to 200-225 just depending on how many guys we want to take.”

Emerick on Grinch
Emerick spoke highly of the recruiting chops of defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, who is heading into his second season as WSU’s defensive coordinator and secondary coach.

“He obviously has a huge say in who gets offered defensively,” Emerick said of Grinch. “It also goes through coach Leach in the end. But coach Grinch is a great recruiter. Tenacious, works hard at it, he signed five guys this past year by himself. He’s a guy where it’s really important to him. And if it’s important to you, you’re going to do well at it.”

Cougar fans can now only hope that Grinch’s work ethic continues to translate into on-field success.  WSU made significant strides this past season on D, lowering its points allowed prt gsmr to 27.7 from 38.6 the previous season. But Grinch told CF.C recently far more work remains and the numbers bear him out -- at 27.7 ppg, WSU still rated seventh in that category in the Pac-12 and was also seventh in total defense.

Points of emphasis
Leach said the one of the biggest goals of this past year’s recruiting process was shoring up the line play and the defensive backfield.

“I love big people, I love offensive linemen,” Leach said. “We wanted to get big guys and we did. We wanted to get speed on defense, particularly in the secondary and on the edges and we did. So I’m very proud of this class.”

If he was looking for size on the offensive line, Leach seems to have found it – at least on paper. Among WSU’s 2016 offensive line recruits are 347-pound Christian Haangana (Milpitas, Calif.), 297-pound Keenen King (Las Vegas, Nev.) and 295-pound Frederick Mauigoa (Pago Pago, American Samoa).

As for the 2017 recruiting class, Emerick said that obtaining a quarterback is squarely on the agenda. As has been well documented, Justus Rogers is the only QB from the 2016 group and will get a long look this spring behind center but it has yet to be determined if the athletic Bellevue High product will play the position at the college level.

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