Cougs welcome official visit weekends season

WASHINGTON STATE'S recruiting season shifts into a new stage this weekend -- the formal hosting of high school and JC prospects on official campus visits -- as Cougar football opens in Pullman for the first time in the Paul Wulff era. And there are few places that can match the unique charms of the Palouse in the early fall -- today's forecast at kickoff is for lots of sunshine and 75 degrees.

Washington State has six home football weekends during the season to host prospects. But the recruiting gods don't always favor a high volume of recruits to take a visit during the month of September. And although the Palouse is indeed stunning in all its early fall glory, later rather than sooner might fit WSU's recruiting schematic better than not.

There is also a growing trend in high schools, becoming more and more apparent this year already, that provides a further challenge on the early season officials.

CF.C HAS PLACED a high number of inquiries to prep and JC coaches in regards to official visits over the course of the past week and indications are that this weekend looks to feature a low number of formal hostings, a lower number than will likely be seen during, say, the Oregon game at month's end.

Why? For starters, high school programs are more and more holding Saturday morning meetings following Friday night games. (Earlier, before the season, high schools were also holding some of their scrimmages on Saturdays. Future Cougars like Gino Simone and others were able to come over unofficially for a fall camp practice during a weekend, but some others were not.)

There are different philosophies in hosting official recruiting weekends. Circling on the calendar one big, high-numbers weekend is one way to go. While it has its advantages, the big numbers weekend also has a major drawback. Coaches are not able to spend as much quality one-on-one time with recruits, and their parents, as they would a smaller group.

Recruiting, of course, isn't the only item on a coach's plate during this time -- they also happen to be fully immersed in trying to win a football game. As an aside, passersby in Pullman reported to CF.C earlier this week that members of the coaching staff were seen leaving their Bohler Gym offices after 11 p.m. When you get in before 7 a.m., that's a fairly full day.

ALL THINGS BEING equal, and with seven known crimson targets already in the fold, WSU might well this year under Wulff and recruiting coordinator Rich Rasmussen trend towards bringing in a more personal-sized group, looking to, say, cap the number of official visitors around six or so. Ideally.

Also playing a major role is the recruiting calendar -- recruiting for the '09 class has been ongoing since Wulff arrived on campus back in December, picking up considerably after February's Signing Day for the '08 class. But schools were first able to place a call to '09 prospective recruits on Sep. 1, this past Monday.

Contact and coordination can be significantly more difficult from February through August because of those contact limits placed on schools, and for parents who want to come along on their son's official visit, planning or finalizing an official on Monday or days earlier would have precluded them buying the more economical 14-day in advance plane ticket.

Many prep programs are opening their season this weekend, and many prep coaches would prefer their top players be focused on their season opener rather than on their travel plans immediately following the game. That's a big reason many prep and JC players take an official visit during their bye week. And there aren't many byes the first week of September.

WHILE THERE ARE a good number of recruits Washington State has offered, and seven of those are known to have already pledged crimson, there are also a good number of prospects on the crimson radar where Washington State will want to see at least part of their senior season before making a decision on whether to offer a scholie.

Tape arriving from the first 2-3 games is still weeks away. And the 42 evaluation days WSU and other schools are allowed during the months of September, October and November, they have to be used wisely.

There also the standard recruiting challenges WSU faces in bringing kids to the Palouse following a Friday night game. Washington State has a phenomenal official visits-to-commits ratio -- once they get there, they fall in love with the place. That's never been the challenge. The challenge, rather, is getting them to come to Pullman. And arrivals into Pullman, or Lewiston, are not plentiful in the late Friday night and Saturday morning hours.

THE CONCLUSIONS AS WSU kicks off the formal visit season this weekend?

Based on our calls to prep and JC coaches and in trying to read the tea leaves, look for an increase as the season moves along in the number of official visitors. But also look for the numbers of official visitors during the season to allow for more personal interaction.

One other thing to look for..

Based on the early known returns, look for plenty more good news to come on the recruiting and verbal commitment fronts over the next two and a half months during the season -- and then also in December, January and right up until Letter of Intent Day in February. By any measure, Wulff's early recruiting haul has been impressive. CF.C has again this year brought to its readership unparalleled coverage of Cougar recruiting, and we looking forward to bringing to you all that's yet to come.

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