Cougs go unorthodox with 'No-Name Recruits'

IT'S ONLY FITTING that WSU head coach Paul Wulff will be holding a Signing Day party at Spokane's Northern Quest Casino. Based on conventional wisdom, the coach's first crop of talent is a gamble. The 24 players the Cougs are expected to sign today are the "No Name Recruits." Indeed, you can count on one hand how many of the newest crimson gladiators had offers from other BCS conference schools.

Forget about Oregon, we're talking UC-Davis. No sign of Oregon State, but Portland State? Let us count the ways.

EWU, New Mexico State, Idaho, Northern Arizona, Montana State, Tulane -- that's the crowd the Cougs were mingling with this time around.

When Wulff took the helm of the Cougar program on Dec. 11, WSU had just three verbal commitments for the 2008 class -– Greater Spokane League standouts Jared Karstetter of Ferris and Dan Spitz of Mead, and Tim Hodgdon a center/guard out of Las Flores, Calif.


16-YEAR-OLD TERRANCE HAYWARD

Consider that modest list as Exhibit A in the departure of Bill Doba. But I digress.

The speed with which Wulff and his staff filled out the class was nothing less than impressive -– more so because they had just three days to hit the trail between the time Wulff was appointed and the start of the NCAA-mandated holiday "dead period" for recruiting.

Virtually every major prep prospect on the West Coast had already verbally committed to a school or narrowed the list of choices down to a handful.

Wulff's strategy appears to have been straight forward: Go after kids with good frames, good feet and good character who are running beneath the major college radar.

Wulff subsequently nabbed three kids Jerry Glanville thought were headed to Portland State; grabbed six junior college players; loaded up on defensive backs from California and versatile kids from Washington.

For the first time in years, there doesn't figure to be anyone from Texas on the Cougs' Signing Day list.

"THIS IS DEFINITELY one of the most unusual classes in many, many years," said a WSU observer who asked not to be identified. "Except for (Cory) Mackay and (Bernard) Wolfgramm, there's really not one player on the list who was truly wanted by another Pac-10 team. Whether this turns out to be a disaster for the Cougs won't be known for a couple years, but given Coach Wulff's track record of mining gold at Eastern over the years, I've got to believe this group is going to turn out just fine. Maybe more than fine -- there are some very interesting athletes here."

Don't hold your breath waiting for the rankings of each school's recruiting class. WSU will be dead last in the Pac-10, which isn't unusual, but probably my a large margin. As of late Tuesday, it looked like the Cougs would land somewhere between 65th and 75th on the national list (out of 119 D-IA schools).

Here's who Wulff expected to unveil today -- and the names of the schools the Cougs battled over to get them:

THE PREPSTERS


CALVIN SCHMIDTKE

From Washington:

CALVIN SCHMIDTKE (6-0, 186)
Quarterback, Lakes High, Lakewood
Completed 76 percent of his passes as a senior, racking up 2,724 yards and 37 TDs with only 5 interceptions. Named 2007 All-Area Player of the Year by Tacoma News-Tribune and first-team all-classifications All-State by the Seattle Times. Rated one of the top 75 prep QB prospects in the nation by Scout.com. Was a Class 2B All-State performer in 2006 as a junior at Life Christian Academy. Chose WSU over Eastern Washington and Idaho State.

ANDREI LINTZ (6-4, 227, 4.67)
Tight end, Meridian High, Bellingham
An all-purpose force for Class 1A powerhouse Meridian. Earned AP All-State honors at defensive end and punter, and all-league plaudits at tight end. Over last two seasons he caught 84 passes for 1,356 yards. He also rushed for 442 yards in 2007 and returned kicks. A native of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Moved to U.S. and at age 6. Chose WSU over Eastern Washington.

SKYLAR STORMO (6-4, 220, 4.8)
TE/DE, Kamiak High, Mukilteo
Team captain and Kamiak's leading receiver for second straight year, with 25 receptions for 433 yards and five TDs. Earned all-league and all-area second team honors on offense. Also earned first team all-league, all-area honors on defense as a DE. Was Wulff's verbal commitment. Chose WSU over interest from Boise State and Washinton.

DAN SPITZ (6-6, 250, 4.8)
TE/DE, Mead High, Spokane
First-team all-classifications All-State at defensive end in 2007. He committed verbally to Bill Doba. Physical and fast, he was named All-State on defense but has excellent blocking and pass-catching skills.. Mead is a run-first team, so Spitz caught just 14 passes in 2007 –- but a whopping seven of those catches were TDs. He squats 525 and benches 285. Chose WSU over Hawaii and Idaho.

JARED KARSTETTER (6-4, 195, 4.53)
Receiver, Ferris High, Spokane
A two-time all-league choice who earned All-State honors in 2006 after catching 71 balls for 1,002 yards. Also one of the state's top basketball players, winning Greater Spokane League MVP honors as the Saxons were the 2007 Class 4A state title. He had verballed to Doba. Chose WSU over Idaho, UNLV, Air Force and others.

CORY MACKAY (6-4, 216, 4.6)
Receiver (Eastlake High, Redmond)
Collected 64 receptions for 1,200 yards (18.8 ypc) and 14 TDs as a senior in 2007. Named All-Area wideout by the Seattle Times and earned first-team all-league honors at linebacker, where he led the KingCo conference with 18 sacks. Chose WSU over Washington.


MIKE LEDGERWOOD

MIKE LEDGERWOOD (6-1, 215, 4.53)
Linebacker, River View High, Kennewick
In 2007, racked up 121 tackles in nine games, with five sacks and three forced fumbles. Named league's co-defensive player of the year. Also played fullback and tight end. A four-year starter in football and basketball. Also a standout in track and field, running the sprints and throwing the javelin. Teammates call him "The Sledge." He benches 325 and spends spare time with mixed martial arts. Chose WSU over Portland State.

From Oregon:

ADAM COERPER (6-5, 230, 4.6)
TE/DE, Hood River Valley High
In 2007, logged 84 tackles, including five sacks. Offensively, had 37 receptions in nine games for 435 yards and 3 TDs. He was also served as the team's punter, averaging over 40 yards per kick. First team all-league at TE and DE and honorable mention Class 6A All-State. Chose WSU over Portland State.

JAY MATTHEWS (6-1, 198)
Safety, Lake Oswego High
Was named first-team all-league and second-team All-State for his work on defense in '07. Had four INTs. Also played receiver, where he was a first-team all-league pick as well. His QB was the son of former NFL standout quarterback Neil Lomax. Team finished 11-1 in 2007. Timed in the 20 yard Shuttle at 4.0. Chose WSU over Portland State (though Oregon State and Boise State were coming on strong when he committed to WSU).

From California:


KEVIN NORRELL

KEVIN NORRELL (5-9 ½, 183, 4.5)
Receiver, Long Beach Poly His height, or lack of, scared off most recruiters, but he has great hands and runs crisp routes. Very good after-the-catch skills, with moves and a second gear. One of the top players at the Nike 7-on-7 Camp. Scout.com West Coast analyst Brandon Huffman thinks he may be the hidden gem in the Pac-10. Had no other offers.

TIM HODGDON (6-3 1/2, 287)
Center/Guard, Tesero High, Las Flores
First-team all-league and all-Orange County. Named Scout.com All-Combine at San Francisco workout. A team captain with a 3.8 GPA. Had offers from the military academies and interest from some Pac-10s.

ALEX REITNOUER (6-5, 235)
OL/DE, St. Francis High, LaCanada
First team All-CIF, all-area and all-league. Mission League's Most Valuable offensive lineman. On defense, posted 38 tackles and two sacks in 2007. Great motor and good feet. Chose WSU over Montana State and Northern Arizona.

ANTHONY LAURENZI (6-3 ½, 260)
Eldorado High, Placentia
Finished senior year with 91 tackles and 23 sacks, earning Orange County Register's 2007 Defensive Player of the Year. Was league's lineman of the year. Set the school sack record as a junior, with 15. Helped El Dorado to two straight CIF-SS division titles. A two-time All-CIF, All-League honoree.

KEVIN FRANK (5-10 ½, 167, 4.5)
Cornerback, Elk Grove High
A three-star prospect rated No. 62 prep corner prospect in the nation. A two-way standout. As a quarterback, he passed for 711 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 398 yards and 11 TDs. Defensively, had 19 tackles and two interceptions. Chose WSU over Nebraska, Boise State and others.

TERRANCE HAYWARD (6-1, 174, 4.55)
Cornerback, Culver City High
Intriguing prospect because he's got good size, but doesn't turn 17 until November. From same school as Michael Bumpus. Can play safety or corner. In 2007 he recorded 51 tackles, three INTs and broke up six passes. He also logged more than 400 all-purpose yards. Chose WSU over Marshall.

DANIEL SIMMONS (5-10, 178, 4.46
Cornerback, Colony High, Ontario
Earned All-CIF-SS Central Division honors at running back but he'll likely play corner at the next level. As a cornerback in the post season Southern California Bowl, he earned the game's Defensive MVP honor with five pass breakups and made numerous tackles. Chose WSU over Utah State

TYREE TOOMER (6-1, 180. 4.47)
Safety/cornerback, St. John Bosco High, Bellflower
Physical and versatile, he has the potential to play anywhere in the secondary. Had 57 tackles, two sacks and three fumble recoveries in 2007. Had 37 tackles as a junior. Also a standout in track, running the 100, the 4x400 and the 300 meter hurdles.

MICHAEL VANDENKOK (6-0, 180, 4.48)
Receiver/safety, Carlsbad High
Both parents are Washington State alums and lived in the Evergreen State before moving to Europe and then eventually Carlsbad. In 2007 he had had 33 receptions for 657 yards. Defensively he had 42 tackles, one forced fumble, 10 pass breakups and three interceptions. One of the picks, along with a kickoff return, he took to the house. Named San Diego Union-Tribune All Academic. Chose WSU over UC-Davis.

THE JUCOs

BERNARD WOLFGRAMM (6-3, 270, 4.8)
Defensive end (College of San Mateo; San Mateo High)
A highly athletic four-star prospect with a major league motor. Recorded 45 tackles in 2007, with 9.5 of them for loss. Chose WSU over Kansas State, Cal and Hawaii.


ZACK WILLIAMS

ZACK WILLIAMS (6-3 ½, 285)
Center/Guard (Glendale CC; Pasadena High)
A two-time, first-team All-Western States Conference selection at Glendale. A 3-star prospect who also earned honorable mention JC Gridwire All-America honors. Chose WSU over San Diego State.

CHATZ STADEN (5-11, 200, 4.5)
Running back, DeAnza CC; Campbell (Calif.) High
JC All-Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2007 with 2,123 yards all-purpose yards – the most of any JC player in California. Had 167 carries for 766 hashes in 2007 and averaged 17.1 yards per catch on 50 pass receptions. Also had 500 yards on kickoff and punt returns. Between two years of JC ball and his final two years of high school he caught 189 passes, making him a possibility at slotback as well as running back.

JESSE SANCHEZ (6-3, 260)
Defensive end, West Los Angeles CC; Culver City High
Physical and possesses good speed. Posted 65 tackles, including 5 ½ sacks, in 2007. Has three to play two at WSU. Had feelers from a host of schools, including Marshall, Nevada, Tulane and Tulsa.

JOSH LUAPO (6-0, 295, 5.22)
DE/DT, Los Angeles Harbor College; Torrance High
Old high school teammate of Michael Bumpus. Picked by Scout.com to its All-Combine team following workout sessions last summer for junior college players. While there he turned in a 5.22 time in the 40; a 26-inche vertical leap and benched 225 pounds 20 times. Chose WSU over San Jose State, New Mexico State and Louisiana-Lafayette. Has three years to play two.

THE HOLDOVER FROM 2007

J.T. LEVENSELLER (6-1, 190, 4.55)
Quarterback, Pullman High
Was 23-2 as a two-year starting quarterback at Pullman, throwing for 3,163 yards and 41 TDs. Also rushed for more than 1,000 yards over the two seasons. First-team all-league quarterback and second-team all-league defensive back in 2006. Son of Washington State assistant coach Mike Levenseller. Already enrolled. Chose WSU over EWU.

NOTABLE: WSU recruiting coordinator Rich Rasmussen will be in the CF.C Chat Room today at 12:30.

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