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Coug recruiting: rankings, history, insights

THE INTRIGUE AROUND Signing Day is just too much to pass up. Rabid Cougar fans have been following this 2017 class for more than a year, and yet in the final days new names continue to pop onto the radar and lots of crimson targets have yet to make that final-final decision. So amid all this uncertainty, how does Scout.com quantify Washington State's expected signing class of 2017?

Scout.com currently ranks WSU's class at No. 41 in the country, and No. 8 in the Pac-12.

An interesting comparison for the recruiting optimists: The 1999 Cougar class was ranked very similarly to this year at 39th in the land but at or near the bottom of the Pac-10.  That '99 class fueled WSU’s three-straight 10-win seasons from 2001-03.

Meanwhile, Washington State’s highest-rated recruiting class came in at No. 21 in 2004.  And that group turned into a monumental bust that helped set the table for the decade of field woes that would follow.

The 2017 class has a healthy average star rating of 2.91 (with three commits yet to be evaluated).   Last year's Cougar class averaged 2.72 stars.  The 2015 Cougar signing class averaged 2.96 stars. But stars in themselves aren't the end-all be-all in Scout.com's rankings.

Scout.com's rankings place a premium on 4- and 5-star recruits, as well as top 100 prospects.  Stanford has only 12 commitments and just three are on the defensive side of the ball.  But its class is still rated No. 28 nationally.  Three of its commits are rated 5 stars, four are 4 stars, and four are in the top 100.  WSU meanwhile has three 4-star commits but none are in the Scout top 100.  By the way, the last time WSU had as many 4-star commits wasn't long ago, with four in the 2015 class (Shalom Luani, Jeremiah Mitchell, Kameron Powell, Thomas Toki).

Until last week, Scout.com had loved the Cougs' 2017 o-line class, ranking it in the top 15 nationally. But Quazzel White's decommitment dropped WSU out of the top 15. From our chair, WSU is likely to add to its current 4-man OL class, so the Cougs may yet jump back into that top 15.

Five Pac-12 recruiting classes are ranked in the top 30 nationally: USC (12); UCLA (17); UW (20); Colorado (27) and Stanford (28).  They are followed by Oregon (31); Arizona (36); Washington State (41); Oregon State (44); Arizona State (48); Utah (53) and Cal (66).

These ratings are based on subjectivity, they haven't played a down of Pac-12 football yet and are thus to be taken with a grain of salt. But they are a decent starting point for discussion. Some highly rated classes will come to excel on Saturdays.  Others not so much.  And some highly rated prospects will prove to have been spot-on in the years to come.  Others, not so much. 

Consider that Washington State is tied with USC at 13-5 for the second-best mark in conference play since 2015 (click here).  Meanwhile, UCLA is tied for 8th, at 7-11.  Now consider the Bruins and Cougars' recruiting rankings over the past five years.  UCLA's recruiting classes have averaged 10th nationally.  WSU's have averaged 48th.

And then there are Cougs like LG Cody O'Connell and QB Luke Falk, both entering their fifth-year senior campaigns in 2017.  O'Connell was ranked 2 stars coming out of high school and had no other Pac-12 offers besides WSU. And yet he developed into a unanimous All-American selection this past season. Falk walked on at WSU with no Pac-12 offers. The former 2-star recruit's name is already plastered throughout the WSU record book and he's about to become the all-time passing leader in the 102-year history of the Pac-12 (Falk has 10,888 passing yards; Sean Mannion is tops at 13,600).

One more star ranking anecdote to consider: The collective number of stars awarded to Marcus Trufant, Erik Coleman and Will Derting when they were high school seniors was less than the 5 stars given to a quarterback from that same era: future third-string Husky Casey Paus.  Together, their prep star power didn't equal Paus'. 

WSU's RECENT NATIONAL RECRUITING RANKING HISTORY:

·  2016 – 50th, just behind Boise State and ahead of BYU
·  2015 – 38th, just behind NC State and ahead of Miami
·  2014 – 57th, just behind Boston College and ahead of Northwestern
·  2013 – 45th, just behind Penn State and ahead of Northwestern
·  2012 – 50th, just behind Nebraska and ahead of Penn State
·  2011 – 57th, just behind UCLA and ahead of Indiana
·  2010 – 40th, just behind Arizona and ahead of Georgia Tech
·  2009 – 43rd, just behind Clemson and ahead of Baylor
·  2008 – 74th, tied with Vandy, just behind UTEP and ahead of Troy
·  2007 – 54th, just behind Connecticut and ahead of Kansas State
·  2006 – 45th, just behind Boston College and ahead of BYU
·  2005 – 47th, just behind Kansas State and ahead of Georgia Tech
·  2004 – 21st, just behind North Carolina State and ahead of Washington
·  2003 – 58th, just behind West Virginia and ahead of BYU
·  2002 – 48th, just behind Illinois and ahead of Oregon State
·  2001 – Unable to locate
·  2000 – Unable to locate
·  1999 – 39th, just behind Kentucky and ahead of Illinois

If you toss out the aberrations at each end -- No. 21 in 2004 and No. 74 in 2008 -- you'll find that the 40s and 50s tend to be where WSU classes rank nationally.

WSU 2017 class commit list


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