2012 WSU recruiting class: Star talent combined with notable misses make for an up and down result

WHEN YOU TAKE a look at WSU's 2012 recruiting class, you have to remember Mike Leach and Co. barely had time to put things together. Leach was hired in early December of 2011, leaving him two months to reshape the class. How'd WSU do?

On paper, things looked good back on Signing Day 2012, but multiple players washed out. However, there were a handful of guys who will be remembered forever in Cougar history. Here's the breakdown.

This class could best be described as up and down. The attrition is there, but the remarkable things some were able to accomplish is more than noteworthy. 

For WSU's 2012 class, it featured 13 3-star prospects, one 4-star recruit and plenty of 2-star guys. The class includes the most prolific receiver in the history of not only WSU, but the Pac-12 as well. But the class was also highlighted by a large number whose stay in Pullman was all too brief, or never made it to campus at all.

Here's the full breakdown"

• Receiver Gabe Marks: Ok, we'll go ahead and chalk this one up as a major win for Leach. Marks was at one point an SMU commit, but flipped his verbal to the Cougars. Things worked out pretty well for him at Wazzu. Marks became the Pac-12's all-time leader in receptions this fall with 316 grabs. Not bad at all.

• DL Destiny Vaeao: He didn't truly make his presence known until his senior season but when he did, it was something to see. Cougar fans won't forget the way he played down the stretch of his final year. He didn't get drafted, but signed with the Eagles as a free agent and not only made the team, he got in there on Sundays and made plenty of big plays in the NFL his rookie season.

• Defensive tackle Robert Barber: Barber's senior year was dominated by headlines away from the field. He was involved in an off-campus fight over the summer and was eventually suspended by WSU mid-season. However, he won in the courts, WSU reinstated him and most importantly, he graduated in December. Despite the off-field issues, Barber was a stud nose tackle for the Cougs from this chair. He's hoping to join Vaeao in the NFL next season.

• Linebacker Jeremiah Allison: Was there a player WSU fans loved more than Allison while he was in Pullman? The outgoing linebacker was a steady presence on the field, but won hearts over with his love for Cougar nation off of it. The hard-hitting 'backer was a leader for the defense while out on the Palouse, helping WSU to a huge turnaround in scoring defense his senior year in 2015.


Here's the breakdown of the rest of the class.

• Cornerback Ray Ford: Ford was a highly touted prospect and arrived to WSU with plenty of promise. However, his stay in Pullman was a short one. He left barely after fall camp started because he wasn't cleared by the NCAA. He never returned, going the JC route before winding up at Boise State for his final two seasons. In 2016, he played in all 13 games with one start, and broke up a pair of passes and made two tackles against WSU.

• Quarterback Austin Apodaca: Apodaca was known in high school for having a rocket for an arm. He was Connor Halliday's back-up QB early on, but he wasn't long for Pullman. He transferred out of the program and ended up at New Mexico. 

• Defensive end Austin Brown: Brown was a late addition to the class. However, his WSU career was a short one. He was kicked off the team following an alleged charge of third-degree theft at the Pullman Walmart.

• Linebacker Justin Sagote: Sagote was a JUCO product out of the College of San Mateo. He finished his career in strong fashion at WSU, including a career-high 12 tackles in a late-season upset win at Arizona.

• Offensive lineman Sam Jones: Jones was also a JC recruit who signed with WSU. However, he never made his way to campus. 

• Safety Taylor Taliulu: Taliulu caught heat from fans on the message boards and he struggled at times at WSU. But he was still the best option available -- he never started less than 10 games each of his final three seasons and he came into his own during his senior campaign, logging 49 tackles in 2015, fifth on the team, along with six pass break-ups.

• Offensive lineman Niu Sale: Sale battled weight issues from the moment he set foot on the Pullman campus. He didn't last long at WSU, eventually transferring out. 

• Defensive tackle Ioane Gauta: Also a JC recruit, Gauta spent two years in Pullman, with his final season being the one fans will remember him for. The 6-3, 285-pounder was a factor at times in the trenches. 

• Wide receiver Robert Lewis: Lewis grayshirted and arrived to WSU in January of 2013. He was also an SMU flip, like Marks. Lewis just wrapped up his junior year, hauling in 33 balls for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Has anyone forgotten about his block in the Utah game two years ago, which freed up Vince Mayle for a long touchdown?

• Linebacker Kache Palacio: Palacio was a beast for WSU. He recorded 57 tackles as a junior and 33 as a senior. He had six sacks his final year in Pullman. He landed with the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad last season.

• Wide receiver Brett Bartolone: Bartolone blew up his freshman season, earning All Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors. However, his promise was left unfulfilled as injuries led to an early retirement from the game.

• Running back/defensive back Teondray Caldwell: Caldwell got his start at WSU as a running back, however, he got moved to defensive back his junior year. Caldwell quit the team midway through that season.

• Punter Mike Bowlin: Bowlin was nothing short of a disappointment for the Cougars early on in his career. The JUCO product bounced back, though, and averaged 40.6 yards per punt to end his career. He made 23 starts.

• Linebacker Khalil Pettway: After a strong freshman season on the scout team, Pettway had to hang up his cleats due to medical retirement.

• Cornerback Alex Jackson: Jackson was recruited by WSU as a receiver, but made his way to the defensive side of the ball. However, he was suspended indefinitely by Leach as a second-year freshman and ended up leaving the program.

• Linebacker Feddie Davey: Davey saw plenty of action on special teams as a second-year freshman, but left the program shortly before the 2013 bowl game vs. New Mexico.

• Defensive end Keith Ewing: Ewing had high hopes of making a difference for the WSU program, but left the program in 2013.

• Running back Theron West: West never truly was able to break through as a key contributor for the Cougars, but he did have a breakout game against Colorado State in the 2013 New Mexico Bowl. WSU lost that one in a heartbreaker, though.

• Linebacker Jacob Tuivaiave: The in-state 'backer signed with WSU, but was unable to qualify academically. He never made his way to the Palouse.

• Offensive lineman Pierson Villarrubia: Villarubia landed in Pullman all the way from Louisiana. However, his stay in the Northwest was short lived as he transferred to be closer to home.

• Offensive lineman Eduardo Middleton: One Middleton found his footing, he wasn't going to be displaced.  Middleton became on of the most productive members on the o-line in the Leach era, posting 38 straight starts to cap his Washington State career.

• Offensive lineman Denzell Dotson: Dotson spent one year in Pullman before leaving the program.

• Offensive lineman Sam Flor: The O'Dea product logged four career starts at WSU and was the No. 2 center behind Riley Sorenson in 2014 and 2015 but chose to hang up his cleats and start his post-football life with one year of eligibility still remaining before the 2016 season.

• Offensive lineman B.J. Salmonson: The pride and joy of Nooksack Valley High is entering his senior year at WSU. Salmonson hasn't been a consistent starter, but is no stranger to PT for the Cougs. In an interview with CF.C this week, offensive line coach Clay McGuire said Salmonson is expected to compete for the starting job at right guard.

• Defensive back David Bucannon: The younger brother of CouGreat safety Deone Bucannon, now with the Arizona Cardinals, David transferred out of the WSU program in 2015.


2011: Lots of hits and misses

2010: Lots of notable talent 

2009: Cougs' 2012 problem is '09 class 

2008: Hastily put together, surprisingly productive 

2006: Turpin's exit caps '06 talent bust

2005: 16 either washed out or never made it to campus

2004: Cougars' Achilles is '04 class

2000: More misses than hits

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