Keep an eye on Illinois and Indiana, and possibly Dallas this coming recruiting season.
That’s because new Cougar d-line coach Jeff Phelps' primary recruiting territories for six seasons at Minnesota were Illinois and Indiana. Phelps at Minnesota had also just recently added the Dallas area to his recruiting list.
It’s a long way from here to next Signing Day and a lot can happen. And Phelps probably figures to have a primary territory closer to Wazzu (perhaps somewhere in California). But the Midwest, as an ancillary territory, could make sense for the Cougars given the recruiting ties Phelps has developed there over the years.
It’s also not too difficult a trip, Phelps told CF.C recently.
“Alaska Airlines flies out of O’Hare Airport in Chicago, they also fly out of Minneapolis. It would be a trip over to Seattle and then a quick jump back to Pullman. From a recruiting standpoint and getting players here on an official visit and that sort of thing, you could do that,” Phelps said.
Distance is of course often a consideration when it comes to recruiting. That said, Wazzu didn’t seem to have much trouble in recruiting far and wide this past signing class. And if there are 2018 recruits WSU likes in the Midwest as it goes through its evaluation process, you might see a handful of them coming to visit the Palouse in December and January.
“It’s an easy flight,” said Phelps. “I took the flight from Minnesota to Seattle and then over to Pullman and it was a piece of cake. I’ve made that trip so as I talk to young men from the Midwest … and hopefully make some of those connections and bring some of those guys this way.”
Beyond their own territories, coaches are of course heavily involved in recruiting to their position too. CF.C asked Phelps what kinds of players he looks for when it comes to the d-line.
“Everyone enjoys watching highlight (tape) but I want to see game film and what happens when the ball goes away – is he running and chasing the ball down? Is he a sideline to sideline guy, or is he taking a play off? Not that you won’t recruit a guy, but at least you know what you’re getting and what you have to get coached up,” said Phelps.
And it's not only about what the recruits do on the field, said Phelps.
“I really love meeting with the head coaches, but I also try to talk to those I come into contact with at the school whether it’s the person working the front door, a person in the cafeteria, the custodian, guidance counselors – they tend to see the kid in a different element,” said Phelps. “They tend to see … how they act, and how they treat those people tells you a lot about the young person … And then you’ve gotta make sure you have a guy that loves the game … who will rise up when the game gets tough.
“I love recruiting, it’s obviously the lifeline of a college football program … and it’s something you have to do every day.”
WSU's 2017 class on Wednesday featured players from 11 states: Arizona (1); California (8); Colorado (1); Florida (3); Georgia (2); Hawaii (1); Idaho (1); Louisiana (1); Iowa (1); Oregon (1) and Washington (2). There are two more Washingtonians who could potentially join the group in DE Kelle Sanders and OL Dontae Powell. The signing period closes on April 1.
2018 PROSPECTS WITH WSU OFFERS (updated regularly)