Coug fans ask recruiting analysts array of Qs

FOR MORE THAN 90 MINUTES on Friday, the West Coast and Northwest talent analysts for fielded an array of questions from inquiring CF.C premium subscribers. Their Chat Room answers were forthcoming, complementary of Paul Wulff and full of interesting nuggets about everyone from Calvin Schmidtke to Cory Mackay.

West Coast analyst Brandon Huffman, who specializes in California, and Northwest analyst Chris Fetters, spent the better part of the lunch hour with more than 40 CF.C subscribers. In Part One of a two-part summary, here are some of the highlights of what they had to say ....

CrimsonJT: Chris: How do you rate the class the Cougs have so far?
FETTERS: This class right now is going to be very difficult to rate, simply for the fact that it's clear that Wulff is using a lot of his Eastern Washington War Room when offering NW players especially. Guys like Ledgerwood and Coerper were definitely below the 1-A radar. One theme I think that's been picked up on is that Wulff is recruiting bigger athletes - the 6-5, 230-pound types. Guys that could go TE or OT on offense or LB, DE or DT on defense. This will clearly give the staff a lot of flexibility going forward. This class has a truckload of potential, but on paper that's all it is right now - potential.

TallCou: How do you guys rate the players? What are all the things you're looking at?
HUFFMAN: The basic idea is that we rate players as college prospects, not as high school players. Some we have to make projections about where they will play in college as opposed to in high school … We are constantly evaluating guys, especially those who are a bit under the radar, and are just getting film on
FETTERS: … a ton of first-hand observation (game, combine, camp, etc.), as well as film, and also talking to their coaches, area coaches, other regional scouts, other people that I trust that have seen the players or go to a lot of HS games. I try to take everything into account - both on and off the field.

tomsim: Luapo and Sanchez seemed like they were under the radar as far as JC players and there isn't too much info. can anything be added that would tell us more about these guys?
HUFFMAN: I didn't get to watch much JC action this year, but those two come from solid JC programs in SoCal, and that should help them as they make the transition to Pac-10 football.

TheMFM: Any Socal sleepers that WSU might be getting in on before LOI?
HUFFMAN: At this point it might be a little bit too late in the game to grab sleepers, but they have already locked up a few in Kevin Norrell and Anthony Laurenzi.

Bigskycoug: It looks like WSU has cooled on Jamar Taylor and it looks unlikely that he will become a Coug. Do you think Frank's commitment had something to do with this or do you think they are pursuing someone else?
HUFFMAN: Jamar Taylor committed to BSU, and it believed it is because Frank took one of the spots. He may also think Thaddeus Brown will take another CB spot.

TheMFM: Any Socal sleepers that WSU might be getting in on before LOI?
HUFFMAN: At this point it might be a little bit too late in the game to grab sleepers, but they have already locked up a few in Kevin Norrell and Anthony Laurenzi.

bigskycoug: Brandon, of the Coug commits that you have good knowledge of, who do you think has the most potential to surprise people.
HUFFMAN: Kevin Norrell could really surprise some people. He had a great summer at passing leagues, but Poly didn't pass much this year because of their talented RBs. Poly usually produces the best receivers year in and year out in California … Norrell is still solid to WSU.

Unknown: Why isn't Norrell rated higher?
HUFFMAN: Norrell was the victim of a VERY deep year of receivers in California. He also doesn't have the best size, and that is a knock on guys no matter what position they play. I still think he will be a good receiver though.

bigskycoug: Chris, which NW Cougs commits do you think have the potential to really surprise people or develop beyond their star ranking?
FETTERS: I love Schmidtke, always have. I think he has the potential to be the next Jonathan Smith from this area. I also think Cory Mackay, if his body develops, could end up being the same type of player Andy Mattingly is.

derting51factor: Do you think Schmidtke projects better than 'The Lobbster'?
FETTERS: I do think Schmidtke is better than Lobbestael. Much better passer, for starters … probably the biggest strength for Schmidtke is also his biggest weakness. He's an unbelievable competitor, but when things don't go well, he's his toughest critic. He's way too hard on himself, and it affects him. But I totally think he could be like a Deesing at Kansas. I think that's a great comparison.

mattime03: How is Schmidtke a better passer than Lobby. Accuracy? How is Lobby's arm strength?
FETTERS: Accuracy, can make all the throws, can throw on the run. Can bullet it in, as well as show touch over the top. He's been in a passing system basically his whole career. I don't think you can say the same about Dave Ward's system at Oak Harbor. Dave has been very successful doing what he does, but he likes to run the ball … He's (Lobbestael) got good arm strength, he's a big kid. But I think the reason why Lobbestael has been successful in football is that he's a winner. He knows how to win, he knows what it takes - whatever that might entail

derting51factor: Which players have the best chance of making an immediate impact?
HUFFMAN: Kevin Frank has an opportunity to make a big impact, especially in a thin secondary… Frank can FLY … Bernard Wolfgramm could be a terror coming off the edge next year.

cdlhot: Brandon, is there a buzz, or a ho hum thought amongst coaches (in California) and recruits about WSU since Wulff has come on board?
HUFFMAN: No question, Wulff has energized Cougar recruiting. It may not bear much this class, but WSU should be a much bigger player in the 2009 class … I have talked to two very important high school coaches at prominent SoCal programs in the last week that have said that Wulff and Co. are hitting SoCal harder than ever before … The most impressive thing about it is those comments were unprompted.
FETTERS: I think there's a buzz around the state high schools, that's for sure … they were at Lakes trying like the devil to talk to Kavario Middleton and Jermaine Kearse, asking those guys just to come out on a visit so they could make their pitch. And I know they've done it with a few other UW in-state guys too - and rightfully so. It's all trench warfare until Thursday.

74Coug: … seems like Wulff has really energized that a fair perception? Does he have the great relationships with HS coaches that Walden indicated?
FETTERS: The beauty of Wulff and recruiting right now for at least the in-state guys is that he already has great relationships with in-state coaches. That's not going to change just because he moved to another in-state school. I expect recruiting battles between UW and WSU to really heat up, starting with the 2009 class.

bigskycoug: Is T. Brown still on the market? I thought that he firmed up things with BSU. What % shot do you think the Cougs have at him?
HUFFMAN: I think T. Brown is about 1/3 chance at being a Coug. He considers himself a soft commit, and is visiting Nevada this weekend. It will be between Nevada, BSU, and WSU.

IBC2991: How much of a role do you think Doba being on unsteady ground contributed to UW dominating in-state recruiting this year in WA? Or were most of these kids going to pick UW regardless?
FETTERS: Good question - I think a lot of it stems from the fact that most of the top guys this year were in Western Washington, and it was just an out-of-this-world class. Next year's in-state crop won't be close to the numbers this class had. But 2010 will once again be very, very good. But with Doba on the hot seat, that could have definitely swayed guys like Cody Bruns, no question.

Cdlhot: Updates on (Alex) Shaw and (Brandon) Turner.
FETTERS: Like I wrote a couple of days ago, I think Shaw is wide open. He could end up (walking on) at Oregon, Washington or Washington State. I think he could come back to Montana last minute, but he just didn't see too turned on by that trip, for some reason.… On Turner, if WSU offers, I would expect him to accept - although Navy has always held a big place in his heart. He sees himself going Navy when his career is over.

cdlhot: any trench battles you see with WSU for a last minute player?
HUFFMAN: Thaddeus Brown is probably the closest prospect that could be described as a trench war. There is definitely a possibility, especially since he tripped to Pullman with Frank.

sirrhett83: Any chance that some of our commits that haven't been evaluated will get evaluated any time soon?
FETTERS: I saw Coerper in person at the PSU camp, and liked his size and the way he moved. But it was at a padless camp, and all you can really get a sense for is their athleticism. I think he has the body to play Pac-10, but coming from a smaller school in Hood River, that's the question mark. Can he ramp up his game to compete at that next level? … Ledgerwood -- I don't have any film on him and he was definitely an EWU special. I can't remember any D1 prospect since Chad Ward in '96 that's come from River View High. That one was a bit of a shocker to me.

CrimsonJT: The Huskies have an awful program yet Tyrone was able to clean up on in state recruiting. Why?
FETTERS: The thing about recruiting is, you can do pretty well sometimes when you have something to sell. UW can sell playing time right now, that's for sure. They can sell the opportunity to make an immediate impact. Wulff can do that too, to be honest. But look at Notre Dame! They had a worse record than UW, but are going to probably end up winning the recruiting crown simply because Weis has something to sell -- he's sticking to his message, and recruits are paying attention.

tomsim: Some have said there are (WSU) commits that really are WAC recruits or are they more like the typical WSU under the radar commits that will out perform their initial ratings. Thoughts?
FETTERS: I'd say your thoughts are correct, simply because WSU is going after guys that they aren't having to necessarily battle Pac-10 teams for. But having said that - part of it is out of necessity. They need to put their stamp on things right now, and the way to do that is to go on the guys you would have at EWU that you honestly felt you could steal from the D1 guys. That's the way I read their moved on Ledgerwood and Coerper, for instance. But they are mixing those guys in with the Pac-10 recruited guys, like Mackay - so I honestly believe they are prioritizing the fights they feel they can win given the limited time they've had to recruit.

derting51factor: Why was Mattingly rated much higher than Mackay? They seem to be cut from the same cloth.
FETTERS: Mackay is an intriguing prospect, but when I evaluated him, it was as a bigger possession receiver. He's not a blazer, he's not going to stretch the field. He's got good hands, but he was able to win a lot of battles simply because of his size. That's going to change a little bit in the Pac-10 …. Mattingly was a total defensive player, from meeting him in person to watching him on film. That evaluation was a no-brainer. Every GSL coach I talked to that year were unanimous in who they thought the top guy was in league. Mackay is a guy that can play on either side of the ball, and frankly I never thought about evaluating him on defense until I saw him play DE this fall. He really blew up in that area. But Mattingly was a lot more clear-cut as a specific prospect at a specific position

IBC2991: With the exception of Mackay is there anyone else in UW's class that you are aware of WSU targeting?
FETTERS: David Freeman was a guy that visited WSU. And earlier I talked about Wulff trying at least two or three times to get Middleton and Kearse to visit. know Schmidtke talks to them bout it too.

IBC2991: … many WSU fans feel WSU "lost their way" with recruiting from 2004-2006, wasted our time going after too many big fish and lost our focus on under-the-radar types. What's your opinion on this?
HUFFMAN: That is a fair point IBC. Look at Randy Estes for that. Or the fact that Arkelon Hall was a priority while Tavita Pritchard got away to Stanford.
FETTERS: That could be, and I definitely think you could make the claim that WSU (along with OSU) has always done a nice job of finding those guys that aren't making a big regional or national recruiting splash, but totally fit what they want. That means they are coaching them up. I know they also - with Coach Burtnett - started to really explore Texas, and that's come with mixed results. I also feel like they did kind of allow UW to take over the state and not really put up too much of a fight. Other than Mattingly, Roof, Alfred and Gibson, the Cougars have not had success with the in-state players that maybe they've had before.

cdlhot: What about Fletcher and Bland at RB, why no Pac 10 offers?
HUFFMAN: Bland and Fletcher not having offers is this year's mystery. Louis Bland is the kind of football player I would want in my program. He would be a great pickup for anybody …. Louis Bland is not a grade risk at all, and that is impressive since he wrestles year round and plays football too. He may be one of the busiest prospects I have ever talked to. Fletcher has some work to do in the classroom

74Coug: Brandon - Mike Walker had the point on Cali prospects previously. Now seems that Steve Broussard has really stepped up...who is working CA with him?
HUFFMAN: Wulff has been taking the lead on a lot of guys (especially the NorCal guys) Jody Sears also has been pretty active.

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