Questions still remain as Signing Day looms

IF FOOTBALL LETTERS OF intent were signed today, Washington State's newest group of recruits would look like a prototype of the classes assembled over the years by Mike Price and Bill Doba. In other words, roughly one-third JC transfers; lots of prepsters from Washington and California; some holdovers from the previous class; and a heavy dose of athletic tight end/defensive end/linebacker types who could fill any number of roles.

LOIs will start rolling in on the fax machine at the crack of dawn next Wednesday (Feb. 1). So until then, anything can change. But as it stands now, the Cougars' new class is projected to consist of 24 or 25 athletes –- most of whom have verbally committed to WSU or, in the case of two JC transfers, already enrolled in classes.

Surprises always seem to pop up at the 11th hour -- as the Michael Bumpus signing two years ago and the loss of Jake Plummer more than a decade ago attest. At this juncture, however, it appears three pressing questions remain for the Cougars:

• Will Long Beach Poly cornerback Vincent Joseph, one of WSU's top targets all season, pick up the Wazzu ballcap when he announces on Signing Day whether it's WSU, Oregon or USC? He says WSU is the leader.

• Will Colton, Calif., defensive back James Smith, a soft verbal commit to the Cougars, stick with the crimson or go with hard-charging Colorado?

NOTE: James Smith could decide if he's headed to Pullman or Boulder in the next 24 hours. For the very latest: Confusing times for Smith

• Will top 100 linebacker Robert Williams of Dallas opt for the Pac-10 (WSU), Big 12 (Iowa State) or stick closer to home (UTEP, Baylor)?

In addition, the Cougars continue to woo San Marcos, Calif., DE/LB Robert Schenck (Fresno State soft verbal) and multi-dimensional athlete Cornorris Atkins from Reseda, Calif., who is being courted by WSU, Washington and Utah State.

Another factor to weigh into the numbers game is the possibility the Cougs could oversign the class with the expectation that some members won't qualify academically.

As things currently stand with verbal and soft verbal commitments, here's the break down of WSU's class:


FINAS RABB


JC TRANSFERS:
Finas Rabb, WR (already enrolled)
Charles Dillon WR
Jason Price, TE (already enrolled)
J.T. Diederichs, RB
Derrell Hutsona, RB/ATH
B.T. Walker, CB
Brian Williams, CB

HOLDOVERS FROM 2005:
Joey Eppele, OL
Greg Walker, WR

PREPSTERS:
From Washington:
Andy Mattingly, LB/S/TE
Kevin Kooyman, TE/DE
Skylar Jessen, RB/ATH
Keith Rosenberg, WR
Grady Maxwell, OL
Micah Hannam, OL


TREVOR MOONEY


From California:
Anthony Houston, WR
Toby Turpin, DT
Ansley Clevil, DE
Preston Brooks, DE
Trevor Mooney, TE
James Smith, DB

From Texas:
Chris Ivory, RB/LB

From Arizona:
Marcus Richmond, RB

FROM A HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE, WSU's 2006 class appears to be in the national rating range of most Cougar classes. Right now, Scout.com's database ranks WSU's expected haul at No. 42. That compares with No. 47 a year ago, No. 48 in 2002 and No. 45 in 2001.

The only recent years outside the 40s were 2004 (No. 21 on the strength of Bumpus, Jerome Harrison, Tyron Brackenridge and Randy Estes) and No. 58 in 2003 (when the likes of Jason Hill, Ropati Pitoitua, Bobby Byrd, Aaron Johnson and Alex Brink were each rated no more than 2 stars).

Now, to add the grain of salt that absolutely must be included when looking at these highly subjective rankings, consider the names of these lowly one-star-rated players from the Cougars' 2002 recruiting class: LB Scott Davis, a perennial All-Pac-10 candidate; C Nick Mihlhauser, a Rimington Award contender who will be in an NFL training camp this summer; WR Chris Jordan, a 2005-06 starter destined for greatness before an '03 knee surgery; and LB Don Jackson, a JC transfer who was a mainstay on two 10-win Cougar teams.

RECRUITING NOTES:

* Vincent Joseph says he is planning to announce his college choice Feb. 1 on Fox Sports West (coverage area is Southern California and parts of Nevada). Tentative plans are for a 6:30 p.m. (PT) telecast.

* Skyline High QB/LB Jason Harris, the Associated Press' 2005 Class 4A player of the year, has been invited to walk-on at Washington State, reports Scout.com's Chris Fetters. Harris, in his first year as varsity QB, led Skyline to a 14-0 record and the state championship.

* Some prospects who had WSU among their finalists have made, or narrowed, their choices in recent days. They include LB Mister Alexander (likely Arkansas, possibly Florida State), OL Cody Habben (Washington) and CB Otis Johnson (Kansas State).

* Kerry Maddox, a cornerback from Tyler, Texas, who had previously verballed with WSU, said this week that he wants to play ball near home so will instead be suiting up in 2006 for the Division I-AA Texas State University Bobcats. He also had offers from Baylor and Utah.

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