How will WSU's start affect recruiting?

IT HAPPENS WHENEVER a season doesn't play out as was hoped. Fans almost immediately start asking the questions -- Will recruiting suffer, will current commits think again? In looking at the recruiting bromides over the years, Washington State's early season and recruiting, the Cougs' 2010 class commitments, plus a conversation Wazzu QB verbal commit Connor Halliday, the picture becomes clearer...

A prep coach in California, whose school is a veritable football factory and who has placed dozens of players in various colleges over the years, once told CF.C there are basically two kinds of recruits..

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The first group: guys who want to see how many offers they can collect, and/or leave doors open, and sometimes open back up the ones they've previously closed. The second consists of players more circumspect. They evaluate everything thoroughly, including academics and the opportunity to play in short and long term, before they leap.

And once they leap, that's it.

WASHINGTON STATE UNDER Paul Wulff, by large majority, targeted the latter category in the '09 group. The same core philosophy holds true in the '10 class.

Spokane's Connor Halliday, ranked the No. 7 quarterback prospect on the West Coast by and the No. 2-rated QB in the Pacific Northwest, is a prime example.

"It really doesn't affect my decision," Halliday told CF.C recently. "They're in a rebuilding process...Their young guys are great talents, they're (just) inexperienced."

The critical ingredient here -- the belief that Paul Wulff's rebuilding efforts will flourish down the road.

"There are going to be a lot of growing pains but in the next couple years, it's really going to pay off," said Halliday. "I think people just need to try and be patient."

With just three games under his belt this season, Halliday, ranked in the nation's Top 40 quarterbacks, already is on the verge of eclipsing 1,000 passing yards. He has racked up 829 hashes and six TDs on 55-of-75 accuracy.

IN GENERAL, WHILE a current year can affect recruiting in certain situations -- a coach virtually certain to be on the way out, for example -- in-season results have a decidedly lesser effect than many fans believe.

It has to do with the different prisms through which fans and recruits see losses.

Fans live and die by 'em. Recruits and their families see them more as opportunity both in the long and short term.

A winning, reloading team generally offers the best of both worlds in terms of recruiting. And it's not uncommon to see a decommit take place, for any school, over the recruiting year.

However, if WSU is in for a rough season in '09, a number of factors point to Wazzu recruiting continuing on the same exact path that's been paved since February.

HALLIDAY HAS HEARD the chatter, there's no question about that. Other schools, fans, fellow students -- all have asked since the season began if he still plans on going to WSU.

"I've gotten so many questions," said Halliday. "'Are you going to decommit, are you thinking about going elsewhere...' but I think once you make your verbal, you need to stick with it, and you need to stick with the coaching staff. I knew going in there were going to be growing pains.

"Part of the reason I made my decision in the first place was because I believe in the coaching staff -- and that they're on the right track."

Halliday didn't want to name the schools who have been in contact since his verbal commitment but said some have called to ask if he was still solid, and to tell him that if anything changed, they were there for him. He told them thanks, but no thanks.

"It really doesn't affect my decision. WSU is in a rebuilding process...If a coaching staff is going to step up and offer you a scholarship, that's humbling. And it's a real honor, at least it was for me," said Halliday.

SPECULATION LAST YEAR, with WSU mired in a rough season in the win-loss column, centered around future commitments, too. But WSU received 17 commitments after October 22 to form a well regarded class.

And once they had committed, guys like Travis Long, Gino Simone, Darren Markle along with the rest of their '09 classmates, dismissed the speculation and guesswork, said many of the same things Halliday is saying now and ultimately signed with WSU.

Based on recent conversations with uncommitted '10 recruits, prospects continue to look at WSU the same way they did a month ago. The 1-2 start by WSU doesn't have much of an effect, on them or on current commitments like Halliday.

"People just need to recognize it's going to take a while because of how they're doing it," said Halliday. "But I truly believe it's going to really pay off."

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