Cougar recruiting: How many can WSU sign this class & how many look to arrive in January? Answer: More than you might realize

A TRIO OF MIDYEAR TRANSFERS – CB Sean Harper, OT Robert Valencia and WR Easop Winston – signed with Washington State Wednesday. All three are important "gets." But could there be more January arrivals beyond those three in Mike Leach’s 2017 recruiting class? And what about the overall number -- does WSU have the ability this cycle to take more than "the max?”

That’s affirmative, to both questions.

Unlike a year ago, the Cougs do have the ability in 2017 to count a midyear signee back towards the previous class, WSU confirmed to CF.C.

A school is only allowed to count a midyear back towards the previous class numbers if it took less than a full load of 25 in the prior class. And as you may recall, WSU 2016 signee LB Suliasi Tamaivena ultimately didn’t make it in. So WSU has the ability to sign one more than they normally would in the ’17 class.

UPDATED: Prep sources with knowledge tell CF.C the three junior college transfers who signed Wednesday, Harper, Valencia and Winston will have company: there will be at least two more early arrivals to Wazzu in January and possibly a third, which would make for a total of six early January arrivals to Wazzu.

Florida wideout Anthony White Jr. is set to graduate early from Miami Central High and pack his bags for the Palouse next month. So is a former signee, 2016 class member Isaiah Love. You may remember Love, a cornerback with length, who appeared set for a busy recruiting season back in spring 2015 when he was in a serious car accident on the way to a combine. Love missed all of his senior campaign save for limited playing time right at season's end. Many of the expected offers dried up in the wake of the injury but Love still saw Pac-12 interest, just not as much as recruiting gurus like's Greg Biggins before the accident thought he would. He pledged WSU over Colorado last recruiting cycle. Here's what we wrote about him on Signing Day 2016:

As CF.C reported earlier, Love is not expected to sign today. There's a chance he could come to WSU in August but a prep source tells CF.C he is expected to delay enrollment and arrive in January 2017, with WSU wanting to give him more time to recover from car accident (neck) this past summer).

The other potential early arrival in January from the prep ranks is another corner, Zaire Webb.  Things look promising for him to head to WSU in January but, the sources say, it's not quite as solid as the two listed above, with Webb needing to wrap up one final academic requirement before he can graduate high school early. 

Both Webb and Love have signed financial aid papers, say the sources. Note: A financial aid agreement shouldn't be confused with a Letter of Intent. An FAA is not binding in the way an LOI is -- a student-athlete signing FAA papers could still sign a binding LOI with a different school in February and enroll elsewhere (though Love and Webb are certainly expected to enroll at WSU after the start of the new year).

ARRIVING EARLY in January isn’t for everyone, some recruits would do better to graduate in the spring/summer and arrive to WSU in July (still getting an early jump with summer school and voluntary workouts) . But for others for whom it make sense, the benefits to the earliest of head starts in January can be huge.

Enrolling in classes at WSU and joining the football program in January allows for not only a head start in the classroom, but to go through things like Midnight Maneuvers (Leach’s famous offseason winter conditioning drills) to begin tutelage under strength and conditioning guru Jason Loscalzo and more. 

And the biggest benefit of all?  Fifteen spring practices.  It’s hard to overstate the value of spring drills for an incoming Cougar rookie.

LEACH TYPICALLY TAKES few junior college transfers and if there was any doubt how important spring drills can factor into the equation for the WSU head man and staff, you only need look at Valencia and George Moore

Moore was a longtime Cougar verbal but it recently became clear he wouldn't have the credits necessary to sign as a midyear, as was originally projected when he pledged WSU back in June. Moore, out of College of San Mateo and who was yesterday bumped up to 4 stars on, announced on twitter Wednesday morning he was decommitting from WSU to explore all his options. He will now sign with a school in the regular period, which begins with Letter of Intent Day on Feb. 1. 

Two independent JUCO sources told CF.C Wednesday morning that once Valencia came on board, Moore became the odd man out and no longer had a WSU offer.

“Leach was never going to take two junior college offensive linemen in this class,” one of the sources said.

Note: There are certainly JUCO prospects WSU will wait on until the spring -- every recruiting case is different and depends on multiple factors.

WSU has five known o-line commitments: Valencia, Dontae Powell, Quazzel White, Abraham Lucas and Alex Kuzmack.  Valencia and Powell are rated 4 stars on while White, Lucas and Kuzmack are 3-star prospects.  Valencia is rated the No. 18 JUCO prospect nationally regardless of position.  Powell, White and Lucas all hail from the Evergreen State.

Pictured above L-R: Valencia, Winston and CCSF head coach Jimmy Collins.

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