WSU enters recruiting stretch w/ select needs

WITH JUST TWO WEEKS remaining until national letters of intent are signed, Bill Doba and his Cougar coaching staff appear to have about three-quarters of their new class in place. The group is shaping up nicely, but there's still work to be done. Here's the comprehensive rundown on the what, the where and the who. Plus a few surprises. This story is FREE for all.

The numbers can change all the way up until Signing Day but as of now, Cougfan.com is projecting Washington State will take 23 or 24 players in the 2006 class.

The final figure may grow by 2 or 3 if the Cougars over-sign with the notion of turning those additions into grayshirts who will enroll a year from now and count toward the '07 class.

As of today, the Cougars have 16 known verbal and signed commitments, plus two holdovers from last year, for a total of 18.

Entering the stretch drive, the picture is coming into laser focus with a flurry of recent verbals -- six over a span of 12 days. These final days, however, will be hectic ones for the coaching staff as they look to fill key slots with their final set of verbals.

One of the top crimson and gray targets remains Long Beach Poly's Vincent Joseph. The shutdown cornerback -- rated among the nation's top 50 at that position -- has said he won't announce his college choice until the cameras are rolling on ESPN on Feb. 1. Joseph (5-9.5, 185, 4.39) is expected to don one of logo hats on Signing Day: Washington State, Oregon or USC.

WSU assistant coach Leon Burtnett, who already has rounded up two Texans for this class, has a pair of Houston prospects booked for Pullman visits this weekend.

One is Otis Johnson, a fast, heady cornerback who clocked a 4.41 at LSU this summer.

The other is outside linebacker prospect Mister Alexander (6-3, 201). He packs a wallop, racking up 65 solo tackles plus another 72 assists on his career according to his prep coach. With a top-flight talent infusion of 'backers last recruiting class, LB isn't a top need for WSU in 2006 but the Cougs are always looking for guys who tackle with their face here since 'backers tend to make up the backbone of special teams. Early four-star Cougar verbal commit Andy Mattingly of Spokane certainly fits that description to a tee, but at 6-4, 223 and with a 4.6 time in the 40 he could also play safety or tight end.

CF.C will have in-depth stories on Alexander and Johnson later this week.

Highly sought Texan Robert Williams played linebacker, defensive end and wide receiver (35 catches, 483 yards, 3TDs as a senior) in his three varsity seasons at Kimball High. Williams (6-3, 200, 4.6) trips to WSU this weekend.

IF THE PAST IS prologue, look for more prospects -- prep and junior college alike -- to surface over these last two weeks. WSU has a reputation for mining the countryside and grabbing diamonds in the rough who typically surprise everyone in the 11th hour.

Here's a breakdown of where the Cougs stand at the other positions:

RB
WSU could take one more back but with three already in the fold in the form of J.T. Diederichs, Marcus Richmond and Skylar Jessen, another addition would have to be something special -- like JC transfer Derrell Hutsona or prep standout Tracy Slocum.

Slocum, from Fresno, told CF.C on Monday he's no longer planning on tripping to WSU this weekend but Hutsona, a fast-twitch package of moves and speed will be in Pullman this weekend. Hutsona, also a fine kick returner, was near unstoppable for Grossmont College in '05, racking up 2,534 all-purpose yards on his way to claiming JC All-America Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors.

WR
The Cougs needed receivers this class and they've been cleaning up, landing Anthony Houston, 6-foot-4 and rated among the nation's top 40 prep grabdmasters; JC transfer Charles Dillon (6-1); holdover signee Greg Walker (6-4); Bellevue High's fleet-footed Keith Rosenberg (5-11); and JC transfer Finas Rabb, a human weathervane at 6-foot-6. Dillon torched defenses at Ventura College this season and Rabb, who started classes at WSU Monday, already owns a pair of CF.C nicknames: The Big Slam and Instant Red Zone.

With three prep and two JC receivers, the Cougs should be set on the flanks.

TE
Washington State didn't take a tight end last year, but this year has verbals from a pair of head turners, plus a versatile athlete who could end up here. From the prep ranks is highly sought Trevor Mooney and multi-dimensional Kevin Kooyman, and from junior college comes Jason Price. The Cougs landed Mooney in a pitched battle with Oregon, Utah, Oregon State and others, while also inking Price, an accomplished blocker with a physique like Zeus. Price is enrolling at WSU this week.

If the Cougars bring in another tight end, he'd need to be very special, but WSU is more likely to use the slot on defense.

DE and DT
Based on CF.C projections, the Cougs could take 2 or 3 defensive ends, and 1 or 2 defensive tackles this class.

One top candidate coming off the edge is Ansley Clevil (6.3, 240), tripping to Pullman this weekend and holding six offers in his pocket.

Clevil hasn't yet scratched the surface although relatively speaking, he's quite accomplished for having played only two seasons of football. His senior year, Clevil racked up nine sacks and a gaggle of TFL among his 55 tackles (41 solo) on the regular season at Venice High outside of LA.

Listed as defensive end on Scout.com, Toby Turpin visits Washington State Jan. 20 but is being recruited by WSU as a defensive tackle. The 6-4 1/2, 250-pound Turpin was relentless in '05, logging six sacks among his 58 first-hit tackles, plus five pass breakups and two interceptions. His strength numbers include a 280-pound power clean and a 350 bench press.

Brandon Garrett (6.3, 230, 4.63) out of Pasadena CC told Scout.com he'll also be in Pullman this weekend. The DE logged 29 tackles, 3 sacks, another 3.5 TFL and a blocked kick this past season. Garrett's brother and teammate Justin, a safety at PCC, also told Scout.com he's tripping to WSU over the weekend.

Kooyman, the super athlete from Tahoma High mentioned above at tight end, also may fit at defensive end.

S
This is a position that hasn't gotten much play this recruiting season given the stocked state of the WSU safety cupboard. Still, the Cougars may make some room. Justin Garrett told Scout.com he's given a soft verbal to Tennessee but will visit WSU this weekend. The 6-2, 190-pounder led PCC in tackles with 81 (54 solo) in '05. The brothers Garrett will have three to play two at the next level.

OL
The perfect class would probably yield one more offensive lineman but the Cougs may stick with the three they have coming in -- Tacoma's Grady Maxwell; Canadaian import Joey Eppele (a grayshirt from '05); and Gig Harbor's Micah Hannam.

One known crimson target, still uncommitted as of press time, is Issaquah's Cody Habben, a 6-5, 280-pounder with quick feet. The Cougs looked to have a good chance of securing his verbal earlier this recruiting season but Habben may end up wanting to stay closer to home.

QB
Conventional wisdom says you take a quarterback every class but with starter and junior-to-be Alex Brink, strong armed sophomore Gary Rogers and redshirt freshmen Arkelon Hall and Cole Morgan, the Cougs appear unlikely to spend a scholly on a QB this class.

KEY DATES:
  • Through Jan. 12 -- Dead period, except for signed mid-year transfers
  • Jan. 13 through Jan. 14 -- Quiet period
  • Jan. 15 through Jan. 28 -- Contact Period
  • Jan 29. -- Quiet Period
  • Jan. 30 through Feb. 2 - Dead period

  • Signing Day is Feb. 1

    A note on Scout.com recruiting rankings:
    A one-star rating signifies a recruit has not yet been evaluated by Scout.com.


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