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Meet Washington State's new inside wide receivers coach Derek Sage: A football junkie who loves recruiting

DEREK SAGE is a football junkie who loves to recruit. That was the big takeaway from this chair after a Thursday conference call between the media and Sage, the Cougars’ new inside receivers coach.

While packing up his Toledo office for Washington State, Sage said he was pulling out recordings of Mike Leach from 20-plus years ago.

"I have DVDs dating back to '93-94 of some clinic Mike Leach did in East Texas or West Texas or something. I've been studying this for quite some time ...  (anybody) just trying to learn more about any kind of football concepts on how to score more points and move the football, I think you'd be a fool not to look into Coach Leach's offense," said Sage, going on to say that while he has a working knowledge of the O, he's looking forward to getting his master's in the how's and why's of the Air Raid.

Sage said he'll be in Pullman Monday to sign his contract and take care of any administrative details.  Coaches are allowed back on the recruiting trail for in-home visits starting Thursday, Jan. 12 and Sage said he’d fly out the night before so as to maximize the reach.  Sage and the Cougar coaches will then be back in Pullman for the Jan. 13 official visit weekend at Wazzu, one of three recruiting weekends remaining before Signing Day on Feb. 1.

“The one thing you’re going to get from me is honesty -- sometimes I’m brutally honest,” Sage said about his recruiting style. “I think in this day and age, you’ve got to be honest with these (players) and parents ... I think the biggest thing is establishing relationships (early) with parents or the decision makers who are the most influential persons in the young man’s life.”

Sage also said he'll be "aggressive in a good way" on social media in recruiting, something he called a "huge factor" in the recruiting game.

SAGE SAID HIS recruiting territories at Wazzu haven’t been set, that figures to come later with Leach and recruiting coordinator Dave Emerick, but it’s a pretty good bet going forward at least some territories will be in California.   During his time at Wyoming, Sage said he recruited the Golden State and primarily the San Fernando Valley, where he remains in touch with "a lot of contacts" and area high school coaches. JaMarcus Shephard, whom Sage is replacing, primarily recruited the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Santa Barbara and Westlake Village for the Cougars this past year.

Sage said since taking the job he's primarily been focused on WSU recruiting and then tying things up at Toledo. But he has started to reach out on social media to some of the Cougar inside receivers on the roster, currently on break until Jan. 9.  Kyle Sweet is one wideout who has already caught his eye.

"The first guy who comes to mind is a Kyle Sweet, somebody who is going to be a go-to-work guy from what the coaches have said. I think the talent is there, and obviously we've got to go out and continually get playmakers every year in every recruiting class. (Sweet) is the one who obviously comes to mind off the top of my head but I'm sure there are other guys and I can't wait to get there and meet them," said Sage.

Sage said his wife, Mandy, had just returned from a two-day house-hunting trip in Pullman. He also said the pull of working with Leach and coaching in the Pac-12 was too good an opportunity to let go by.

“We’ve had a great run in my three years here at Toledo, and they’ve been great to my family and I and we’ve won some games, but it’s an opportunity for me to advance my career,” Sage said. “I’ve been part of some really good offenses dating back to Nevada with Chris Ault and New Hampshire (and) Wyoming. But just the chance to join Mike Leach, he's the godfather of the Air Raid, and you couple that with being in the Pac-12, it sells itself. After I got there and saw the facilities first hand, it just sells itself."

RELATED: Sage already hard at work recruiting 4-star WR Jamire Calvin

NOTABLE NOTE:
Sage will be the fourth inside receivers coach for Leach at WSU. Eric Morris left after Leach's first season in 2012 to become co-offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and was replaced by David Yost. After three seasons in Pullman, Yost left for Oregon last January and was replaced by Shephard, who after this season rejoined his former Western Kentucky head coach Jeff Brohm at Purdue.  WSU outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons spent three seasons at WSU under Leach from 2012-14 before leaving for Oklahoma. Simmons was replaced by Graham Harrell who  left after the 2015 season for the OC job  at North Texas.  Harrell was replaced before the 2016 season by Dave Nichol.


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