Bloody Thursday

DEVASTATING NEWS greets the Cougar football team this week as 25 percent of its newest recruiting class -- including three of its most touted members -- have failed, or are expected to fail, to qualify academically to play for the Cougars this season.

Lost for sure are defensive back Randy Estes, receiver/safety Michael Willis, defensive lineman Lawrence Ball, and JC receiver Benny Ward, with JC defensive end Letrell Myers, running back J.T. Diederichs receiver Charles Dillon likely to follow suit, WSU recruiting coordinator Robin Pflugrad said in an article in the Daily Evergreen.

Estes, Willis, Myers and Diederichs all were expected to make a serious run at playing time this season.

"You can't put into words how debilitating this is," said one person close to the program who asked not be identified. "They took chances on a lot of guys on the bubble and for none of them, except Bumpus, to qualify is shocking. Maybe two, but not six or seven. This really is going to serve as a wake up call, because you know some of these guys will be picked off by other schools once they go the JC route."

Bumpus is receiver Michael Bumpus, the most celebrated member of the 2004 class.

"To lose 25 percent of a class before their first season has got to be a record of some kind," said the person close to the program. "This really turns up the heat to make sure they make no mistakes -- absolutely none -- with the 2005 class."

This academic attrition didn't come as a complete surprise to the Cougar Nation, however. Pflugrad and company over-signed the 2004 class by three—from 25 to 28—in anticipation of academic problems. But no one gambled on seven signees falling off what had been ranked as WSU's best recruiting class ever.

"We had a full boat this year, and we decided to go hard and take some chances," Pflugrad told the Daily Evergreen. "We'll see if that catches up to us."

He added that there's a chance Myers could qualify over the coming months and then enroll in January.

After this article was published, Tyson Kirskey later became the eight member of the 2004 WSU class not to meet NCAA eligibility standards. That number dropped to six when two student-athletes, Michael Willis and Benny Ward, qualified. Willis and Ward are now in the Cougar fold.

Cougfan Top Stories