If speed kills, WSU recruits are Murderer's Row
If speed kills, then this class is a regular Murderer's Row.
The oohs and awes were abundant among the nearly 400 partisans as Pflugrad offered up several clips of each of the 20 newest Cougs at the annual Pierce County Cougar Club coaches' dinner.
One of the most impressive was middle linebacker Greg Trent of Keller, Texas. He was so fast on blitzes that Pflugrad gushed, "Look at the guard and the tackle –-- they can't find him. And the fullback doesn't even see him!"
Trent is one of four linebackers in the class with 40 meter speed between 4.4 and 4.55 seconds. And a fifth, hard-hitting Lamar Brumfield of Carson, Calif., runs a 4.7 but figures to drop that time with the right training regimen, according to WSU coaches.
The slow motion button during these film sessions is typically called on for analysis of line play, where the convergence of so many big bodies is difficult for the naked eye to sort in real time. Indeed, the trench warfare that Pflugrad dissected had people smiling as future Cougars Kenny Alfred (OL, Gig Harbor) and Fevaeai Ahmu (DT, San Diego) flat out punished people.
Pflugrad, though, had to slow things down all over the field.
One stunning example was a kickoff return by JC transfer Lorenzo Bursey. He made a 90-degree cut at full speed. Considering that he runs the 40 in 4.4, it was a thing of beauty you could only appreciate to the fullest if the tape was slowed so you could see the footwork as he turned left. The Pierce County crowd applauded when Bursey's segment ended. Head coach Bill Doba thinks the West Los Angeles College running back could crack the starting lineup in 2005 as a slotback.
Pflugrad replayed one clip of quarterback Arkelon Hall several times to convey the beauty of a short TD pass. The first time around, at regular speed, it looked like a standard roll out and toss to a receiver at the goal line. Doing it again in slow motion conveyed both Hall's deft footwork as he rolled left, and then the velocity and accuracy of the pass itself -- done on the run, against the grain.
For sheer dramatic effect, however, the greatest oohs were reserved for some decleatings administered by safety James Bradley, and linebackers Cory Evans and Courtney Williams. In fact, Pflugrad summed up all of Williams' clips with two words: Violent collisions.
Two guys Pflugrad didn't need to put in slow motion were running backs DeMaundray Woolridge (a classmate of Trent's in Keller, Texas) and Dwight Tardy, a record-setter from the L.A. Basin.
Both players see holes, get through them quickly and then turn on an extra gear. Woolridge runs the 100 in 10.5 and has been clocked at 4.3 in the 40. Tardy has been clocked at 4.5 in the 40 but has an elusiveness that makes him so dangerous.
Pflugrad also offered up some remarkable statistical perspective on the 2005 class:
* Of the 32 prospects WSU brought to Pullman on official visits, 20 of them signed with the Cougars. That's a success ratio of 63 percent -- roughly double what is considered a good hit-to-miss ratio.
* Nineteen of the 20 were on teams that won championships and/or played in the post season. "This is a group of winners," Pflugard said.
* All six prospects the Cougars offered scholies to at their 2004 summer camp committed to WSU.
Academically, it's a solid bunch, with no more than three still needing to wrap up requirements.
Asked to sum up the class, Pflugrad was succinct: "Very physical, very fast. These are guys who make plays and finish plays." And then there's the intangibles. "These kids have fun playing football and they're good citizens," he said. "They're also courageous -- hitting people with their face, and not afraid to go across the middle to catch a pass."
Later this week we'll post a story with Pflugrad's player-by-player analysis of the class of 2005.