Call it The Mastro Spring at WSU

WITH THE COUNTDOWN to the start of spring ball officially on, a random -- but notable -- thought struck me while perusing Washington State's projected depth chart on offense. Assistant coach Jim Mastro ran the recruiting point on six major contributors plus two (possibly three) others who figure to attract considerable attention when the first whistle blows on March 24.

The Mastro tree reads like an official post-game box score. Namely ...

* Receiver Gabe Marks -- already the most prolific wideout in WSU history
* Receiver River Cracraft -- Luke Falk's old reliable caught 53 passes in '15
* Center Riley Sorenson -- honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2015
* Receiver Robert Lewis -- caught 43 passes last season
* Running back Jamal Morrow -- 86 touches and 847 all-purpose yards in 2015
* Receiver Kyle Sweet -- Came on strong as a true freshman after Cracraft injury

The five skill players on that list collectively accounted for more than half of WSU's total offense last season. And they're all back for 2016.

While the CF.C files aren't necessarily Dewey Decimal System perfect (meaning the analysis of who recruited who isn't challenge-proof), I truly cannot recall one staffer in my many years covering WSU recruiting who had that much impact on the talent on one side of the ball at the same time.

WSU's coaching staff includes a host of guys I believe are outstanding recruiters. But even those who excel at getting player signatures on national letters of intent have their share of misses, academic casualties, injuries, etc. That's what makes Mastro, who is WSU's running backs coach, so unusual. He has landed players who aren't just sticking, but shining.

Marks, of course, is the biggest star. And how he wound up at WSU illustrates how effective Mastro is in recruiting. Marks was verbally committed to SMU as a high school senior and hadn't considered WSU until Mastro and Mike Leach pulled on their Cougar sweatshirts. When you factor in the no-contact period around the holidays, that effectively meant Mastro had just five weeks -- six tops -- to move WSU from nowhere in Marks' mind to the top of his list.

And don't forget the two up-and-coming talents whom Mastro ran recruiting point on: running back James Williams and defensive lineman Hunter Mattox. Both turned in solid work -- some might even say spectacular in the case of Williams -- in practice last season as redshirting true freshmen.

The list of Mastro notables, in addition to those two, could grow further by the time September rolls around. Offensive lineman Noah Osur-Myers and linebacker Aaron Porter could end this spring pushing strong for starting jobs.  In addition, two other Mastro recruits -- safety Suli Hameed and receiver Brett Bartolone --  are former starters who have been sidetracked by injury. Hameed sat out all of last season, while Bartolone formally announced his medical retirement last season and now works as a volunteer coach for the Cougars.

WHEN LEACH BROUGHT MASTRO on board with him, WSU's biography of Mastro noted that his prior work included 11 seasons at Nevada, where he "oversaw several top recruiting classes." The biography also noted that "he enjoyed tremendous success" recruiting in California. Every player mentioned in this story is, no surprise, from California.

Leach has upgraded the overall talent on the WSU roster since his first signing class in 2012 and from the looks of WSU's offense this spring, it would appear one of the head coach's biggest gets, is Mastro.

“The one thing about Jim that gets overlooked is what a great evaluator of talent he is,” then-Nevada coach Chris Ault said of Mastro in 2010. 

RELATED STORY: Why Mastro is a Recruiting Maestro

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