Backbone of WSU gridiron resurgence: The Cougars' 2013 recruiting class

WHEN YOU REWIND the clock on previous Cougar recruiting classes under Mike Leach, you can draw a line between the 2013 crop and a WSU football program with 13 conference wins the past two seasons. This class was loaded. Yes, like all classes there was some attrition, but on whole the 2013 class was the backbone of the Washington State resurgence on the gridiron.

From 2007-15, WSU failed to post a winning record on the football field.  In the past two seasons, WSU has reached back-to-back bowl games and posted 17 wins. The reasons for the turnabout include a guy with the improbable name of River, an offensive lineman Leach nicknamed The Continent by his head coach, and many more.

One player not listed below -- because he was a walk on and not a member of the signing class -- nevertheless needs to be noted as part of the 2013 class. Indeed, his role in the WSU football resurgence can't be understated: Luke Falk. By the time he finishes his crimson career, the Cougar QB may well hold every major passing record in the history of the program. But Falk is far from the only headliner -- and difference maker -- who arrived to Wazzu in 2013. 

STARS/CONTRIBUTORS

OL Riley Sorenson: Heart and resiliency don't show up in a box score and o-linemen don't get stats. But Sorenson, who just wrapped up his Cougar career this season, was the definition of both after losing both his parents and battling testicular cancer while in Pullman. Last week in Seattle, he was honored with the Wayne Gittinger Inspirational Award at the MTRWestern Sports Star of the Year Awards. On the field, he played in 38 games, starting 34, including all 13 in 2016 when he was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention.

WR Vince Mayle
A JC signee, Mayle was a beast at receiver for his two seasons with the Cougs, catching 106 balls for 1,483 yards his senior season. He’s currently with the Baltimore Ravens.

RB Jamal Morrow
Morrow has become a key cog in the Air Raid and fan favorite for the WSU faithful. The speedy back has become known for breaking off strong runs, while also catching the ball out of the backfield and bursting his way past defenders. He’s been a steady playmaker for the Cougars and led the team with 1,217 all-purpose yards in 2016, and was also third on the Cougs with 10 total touchdowns.  He was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention this past season.

OL Cole Madison
Madison has a nasty streak in the trenches and has started every game he's played in (34) going back to his second-year freshman season.  The Cougar right tackle heads into his senior campaign having been named All-Pac-12 honorable mention as well as second-team All-America by Pro Football Focus for his work in 2016.

RB Gerard Wicks
The 6-0, 225-pounder has been a truck running the pigskin, often in short-yardage situations, and still posted 5.4 ypc in 2016 -- and 11 rushing TDs.  He started 12 of WSU's 13 games in 2016 in a three-member backfield and tied for the team-lead with 13 total touchdowns while posting 659 all-purpose yards.

LB Ivan McLennan
McLennan was another JC product who had himself a strong career for the Cougars. His senior season at the RUSH, McLennan made 10 starts and recorded 42 tackles with six sacks.

LB Peyton Pelluer
Might as well call him the stopper. Pelluer has led the Cougs in tackles from his MIKE linebacker spot, and has been named All-Pac-12 honorable mention, the past two seasons. He is on pace to become one of WSU's all-time leading tacklers with 233 stops headed into his senior campaign.

WR River Cracraft (pictured above)
Cracraft made the tough catches look routine and the near-impossible grabs look graceful in a career that spanned 41 games and 35 starts. Cracraft finished his WSU career second all-time at Washington State, and No. 16 in Pac-12 history, with 218 receptions. Now consider those numbers in light of the fact he missed nine games over his final three seasons to injury. He was twice named All-Pac-12 honorable mention in his first season and his last. His WSU career ended with a torn ACL but he saved his best for last, with a flurry of great grabs in the latter half of 2016. He had surgery this winter and is currently busting his tail in looking for his shot in the NFL.

OL Cody O'Connell
In one of the more astounding college football seasons from a first-year starter, O'Connell was named a unanimous All-American selection for his work at right tackle in 2016, only the second unanimous All-American in the school's history (Jason Hanson). Equally as astounding, the Pac-12 left O'Connell off its first or second team at the end of the season, affording him honorable mention. The Continent will enter his senior season at WSU in 2017 as a favorite for the Outland Trophy, after being one of the three finalists for the award in 2016

DB Charleston White
White made the choice to graduate at the end of the semester with one season of eligibility remaining but he was a key contributor in his time at WSU. A versatile defensive back who could line up at corner or safety, he played in 35 games during his Cougar career with 12 starts. He
appeared in all 13 games this past season with one start, recording 17 tackles and two interceptions.

LB Paris Taylor
Taylor arrived to WSU out of junior college as a defensive back but moved to linebacker. He was a solid special teams player for WSU and appeared in all 13 games this past season, recording 20 tackles. He played in 22 games his final two seasons.

LB Dylan Hanser
Hanser has done it the old fashioned way - by first becoming a special teams mainstay. This past season, he started six games at RUSH and played in 12.  He continued to be a special teams playmaker in 2016. This past season, he posted 21 tackles -- and forced 3 fumbles.

DL Daniel Ekuale
The American Samoa product has played in 38 games over his Cougar career including all 26 the past two seasons, and with increasing production each year. In 2016, he started nine games with 23 tackles. That said, he still has a high ceiling and it will be intriguing to see how he performs his senior campaign under new Cougar d-line coach Jeff Phelps.

LB Isaac Dotson
Dotson has battled injuries over his WSU career but was the healthiest he has ever been in 2016 and it showed in the stat book -- he finished fourth on the team in tackles with 64. He's also a shining example of the player defensive coordinator Alex Grinch looks for - a versatile defenseman who can play several roles. Dotson arrived to WSU as a safety. He then added nickel and, in certain passing situations, WIL to his repertoire. Heading into the 2016 campaign, he established himself as the starting WIL.

OL Jacob Seydel
Coming out of junior college, Seydel provided depth his two seasons at Washington State, filling in for six starts over his two-year playing career at Wazzu. Two of those starts came in his senior season when Joe Dahl was injured before Andre Dillard, then a second-year freshman, effectively replaced him.

DE Lyman Faoliu
The College of San Mateo product appeared in 25 games, primarily on special teams, during his two years with the Cougars. 

DB Darius Lemora
Lemora in the 2016 campaign appeared in seven games, mostly on special teams. He played a similar special teams role in 2015. He saw his most action in Cougar uniform in the 2014 campaign, when he started 10 games and was fourth on the team with 68 tackles.

WASHED OUT/NEVER ARRIVED

QB Tyler Bruggman

Bruggman was a 4-star QB recruit, but left the program after one season when Falk beat him out in the spring. he is now at Montana State, which just so happens to be WSU's opponent in the 2017 season opener.

DL Davonte McClain

McClain arrived to WSU out of junior college as an offensive tackle and later moved to defense. He graduated after the 2015 season but did not appear in a game.

CB Daquawn Brown

A promising career at WSU was cut short after two seasons when he was dismissed from the team by Leach for an unspecified violation of team rules. In his two seasons at WSU, he made 15 starts and recorded 132 tackles with 16 pass breakups and two INTs.

DE Emmitt Su'a-Kalio

Another potentially promising WSU career came to an end when Su’a Kalio was a grades casualty. During his redshirt season coming out of high school, he ran afoul of the law when he got into a physical altercation after a weightlifting session with a Cougar walk on, who was reported to have suffered a broken jaw. At the time he departed, Su'a-Kalio was officially listed behind the other two BUCKS on the depth chart but he was also the best hand-down pass rushing specialist that spring on the d-line from CF.C's vantage point.

OL Matt Meyer

Meyer was reported to be delaying enrollment but never arrived to WSU. He instead went to Eastern Washington the following season and developed into a starter before injuries slowed his career.

OL Carlos Freeman

Freeman did not appear in a game over the course of his WSU career but sources tell CF.C the well-regarded offensive lineman battled injuries throughout his tenure in Pullman.

DT Gerald Sterling

Sterling was another academic casualty, spending a little more than a year in the program. He was listed fourth on the SU depth chart at nose tackle at the time of his departure.

CB Markell Sanders

After delaying enrollment, Sanders spent just five months in the WSU program before transferring to Montana.

DL Paulo Lepua

A 3-star DL prospect, Lepua never qualified.

RB Olito Thompson

Thompson, a 3-star RB prospect, also never qualified.

RELATED STORIES

2012: Some star talent but still plenty of misses

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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