Can Cougs in 2017 replicate the success enjoyed from the early January enrollees in 2016?

IT MAKE SENSE, right? Bringing members of a recruiting class in super early in January means they can get used to the coaching staff and college life now rather than later. And 15 additional practices and a summer of weight training within the program is big. If the 2017 early arrivals can repeat the success of the group that came before them, that would be ideal.

The most recent group to arrive in January for the earliest of head starts and competing in spring ball:

OL Robert Valencia
WR Easop Winston
DB Sean Harper
DB Isaiah Love
WR Anthony White Jr.
CB Zaire Webb

That’s two January enrollees more at WSU than in 2016. But those four collectively played a significant role this past season.

Jalen Thompson, Safety, Downey, CA (pictured above)
Thompson not only found the field as a true freshman at a position of need for the Cougars, he started every game as the Cougs’ strong safety – that’s rare.  Thompson recorded 26 of his 51 tackles in the last four weeks, ending his first season with the Cougars sixth in tackles. The early months in Pullman certainly helped him get used to the system and jumpstart a strong true freshman Pac-12 campaign. And as the saying goes, the biggest improvement is usually seen between Years One and Two – just one more reasons fans of Cougar D are eagerly awaiting this season.

Garrett McBroom, Defensive End, Stillwater, OK
McBroom was a two-star defensive end out of Northeast Oklahoma A&M College. What Washington State needed was for him to come in and contribute right away. That doesn’t always happen for a junior college player in his first year and particularly on the defensive line, as one adapts to the different level of strength and athleticism. But McBroom adapted nicely. He started five games last season, and appeared in all 13 contests.  He contributed 12 tackles with one tackle for loss, one sack and forced a fumble.

Isaiah Johnson-Mack, Wide Receiver, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
In Johnson-Mack’s true freshman season, he earned time in the receiver rotations and played in all 13 games. He was sixth on the team with 35 catches for 246 yards and a touchdown. With Gabe Marks moving on, Johnson-Mack was the leading candidate at spring’s outset to earn the starting job at the X.  Like most second-year players he has plenty to improve … but he also has loads of potential. 

Justus Rogers, Linebacker, Bellevue, WA
Spring ball is crucial for the rookies to learn the playbook but in the case of Rogers, he used last spring to learn the defensive side of the ball. Rogers was a high school quarterback who had the athleticism and size to convert to a new position. And he looks to be taking a similar path to Isaac Dotson, another former high school QB who started out at defensive back at WSU and is now the Cougs’ starting WILL.  Rogers this spring is working to earn turns at the MIKE.  While he may be at a new spot in 2017, that first spring session should prove crucial in his development.

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