RECRUITING: A look at the linemen question

WASHINGTON STATE IS off to it's fastest start ever in recruiting, with 12 known verbal commitments already in the fold for the 2010 class. But where, Cougar recruiting fans are asking, is the beef? After all, the lack of high performing offensive and defensive linemen has been reflected in the win-loss totals of recent history. CF.C takes a closer look..

If you break down the Cougs' verbal commitment list, it shows 1 QB, 2 WRs, 3 TEs, 1 OT, 2 S and 3 CBs.

Just to clarify, those positions listed are nearly all projections by Scout. It may not necessarily play out that way for some. CF.C readers know that Jake Rodgers, for example, might have a brighter college future as an offensive tackle, or a d-lineman.

Or a safety might be a better linebacker at the next level, a corner might be a better safety or even linebacker.

But even then, the question remains, what about the linemen -- and in particular, what about the d-line prospects for the Cougs this class?

HEADED INTO THE prep season, this wasn't a great year in-state for d-tackles. It's not a banner year in California, either -- a paltry two d-tackles from the Golden State are listed by Scout.com at four stars or better.

To be clear, following the summer camp circuit, it wasn't a great year. It could get better as kids blossom their senior year. Or it could stay the same. More on that later.

IN LOOKING AT the unearthed offers, in pouring over the in-state, Northwest and California '10 crop, our reading of the tea leaves is that Washington State went with primarily a senior season approach to the d-linemen this class -- they wanted to wait for video from a d-lineman's first 2-3 games before deciding on whether to offer.

Did a guy add 25 pounds between his junior and senior years? Is he more explosive? What's his athleticism like? These are things, critical things, college football coaches want to intensely scrutinize before deciding.

OUT AT MEADOWDALE HIGH, Connor Hamlett is one who could conceivably earn a WSU offer, depending on if he's shown strides on his senior tape.

Hamlett missed WSU's camp this summer -- he might have been able to play himself into an offer back then. All college coaches put a lot of stock in seeing a kid live.

But to have extended an offer to a guy listed at 6-7, 240 pounds back in June without having seen him live -- and keeping in mind he'd never put his hand down in his life prior to his senior season -- well that just might not make as much sense as does waiting until tape of his first 2-3 senior season games comes in, would it?

Mariner's Mychael Tuiasosopo is another one who could climb into the Cougar orbit depending on what his senior tape shows.

Listed by Scout at 6-2, 245 with 4.8 speed, how productive will he be this season? With the defensive fronts they run, Washington State puts a premium on lateral quickness and explosion on the line. Will his senior tape show he's strong enough to handle a play coming at him and still fast enough to chase down a guy from behind?

Those are just two of many whose tape is likely to arrive soon to the offices of Bohler Gym, or already has. And the tape is likely to help answer some of those questions. Tape can also result in a WSU assistant making the Friday night trek to see, with his own eyes, more.

THERE'S ONE OTHER area to cover here on the d-linemen but also on recruiting in general -- the sleeper. Because of how the internet recruiting system works, the senior season means precious little in terms of stars and rankings. By the time the prep senior season rolls around, the vast majority of the rankings are pretty well locked in, there's not a whole lot of movement left to be had. It's overwhelmingly junior based.

There could also be a guy or three out there WSU has already identified but that other schools, and recruiting sites, have not. Even in this day and age, there exist the sleepers coaches will be jumping and down over after receiving his verbal, while the recruiting services react with a loud yawn and two stars, because until he verbally committed he was, to them, virtually unknown.

Junior college players like Stephen Paea also get overlooked in the rankings. He garnered three stars -- the junior college equivalent to a two-star prep player. Meanwhile, 5-star "can't miss" JC prospects like Justin Thompson end up unable to earn a starting spot at the college level.

Simply put, the sleepers, guys who will develop into difference makers on the college gridiron, they're out there.

SO WHERE'S THE beef for Washington State this recruiting class?

It's coming.

It's just that for the 2010 class, the Cougs are letting it age a little bit more.


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