1. How quickly can the offensive line class get up to speed?
Normally, rookie offensive linemen are ticketed for a redshirt but Wazzu’s 2017 offensive line class, barring something unexpected, will be one of the most decorated o-line groups Washington State has ever brought to Pullman.
There’s 4-star JUCO tackle Robert Valencia, the No. 18 junior college prospect in this class who has 2-to-play-2. But there’s also 4-star tackle Dontae Powell and 3-star guard Quazzel White, both rated in the 30s nationally at their positions. While two other 3-star prospects, Abraham Lucas and Alec Kuzmack, would appear likely redshirt candidates, history has shown such assumptions are dangerous under Mike Leach with Riley Sorenson and Fredrick Mauigoa being prime examples.
Bottom line: WSU’s incoming OL class, be it sooner or later, will look to sustain the impressive 2016 play that graduating seniors Sorenson and Eduardo Middleton are leaving behind. And it might not be only Valencia who plays early in 2017.
2. Will the Cougars add more wide receivers?
WSU loses Gabe Marks and River Cracraft to graduation – that’s a huge amount of production and experience – as well as John Thompson. The Cougars have signed 3-star JUCO receiver Easop Winston, plus 3-star prep wideout Anthony White Jr. (pictured above) is also expected to arrive early to Wazzu in January.
But they are also the only two known wide receiver commitments in this class.
Washington State usually doesn’t have a depth problem when it comes to its wideouts. And there is a good amount of young talent waiting in the wings; Isaiah Johnson-Mack, Renard Bell and Dezmon Patmon to name a few. But CF.C also projects the Cougars to take more than just two wideouts this class by the time it's all said and done.
Could someone like JUCO wide receiver Isaac Zico be among those going crimson in the coming days and weeks? Could 3-star prep prospect Michael Onyemaobi, verbally pledged to Cal, end up signing with Wazzu instead?
3. Who will be the overachiever of this class?
Who will be the next Cody O’Connell, Andre Dillard or Hercules Mata’afa?
Time and again since Mike Leach arrived in Pullman five seasons ago, the WSU coaching staff has shown its evaluation chops when it comes to recruiting, that they can get the most out of players less heralded by the recruiting sites and media -- and most importantly, find players who can thrive in the Cougars’ schemes.
The commitments this class have actually been coming from mostly higher-rated players, Scout.com lists 20* known Cougar commits averaging 3.05 stars. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a couple under the radar players coming on board between now and Feb. 1, ones who who will wind up surprising most everyone after the pads go on. Just a matter of who.
*There are actually 21 known recruits in WSU’s class, with 2015 holdover CB Isaiah Love arriving in January. Scout.com's policy is 'not to count a prospect twice' in the recruiting rankings so Love won’t show on our 2017 commit list, only the 2016 list. Also, and as CF.C reported earlier, Wazzu is able to sign 26 this class, one more than the usual maximum of 25. See related story below.
4. How many commits will end up coming out of that mid-December visit weekend?
The Dec. 9 official visit weekend at Washington State saw three new pledges from Valencia, LB/Nickel Cole Dubots and DE Aisa Kelemete, and solidified others to WSU. Could 3-star offensive tackle Mo Unutoa and Onyemaobi, a longtime Cal verbal, wind up following suit?
Onyemaobi sounded very impressed with his visit and WSU corner back Darrien Molton did a good job selling the Cougars, from what Onyemaobi told CF.C.
5. Who’s next?
It’s the question asked all year long by Cougar fans but it takes on even greater importance with less than a month left before Signing Day.
Some of the Cougars’ top targets, including but not limited to Zico, cornerback Elijah Gates and outside linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia, have yet to make decisions.
Can the Cougars gain further recruiting momentum in the coming weeks -- while holding onto the ones they’ve already got? The college football recruiting landscape resembles the Wild West during the final contact period before Signing Day. This year it kicks off on Jan. 12.
Rather than include WSU's d-tackle recruiting in the five questions above, CF.C will be doing a separate article on that subject in the coming days.
RELATED: How many can WSU sign this class?