WSU's athleticism notable, say those in know

PAUL WULFF LOVES his new recruiting class, and so do three people with less invested in it all than the head coach. "I am impressed with that sucker," former WSU coach Jim Walden says of the newest crop of Cougs. Adds West Coast analyst Brandon Huffman: "With his second chance at a full recruiting class, Paul Wulff has put together one of the best Washington State has seen."

And Barry Bolton, CF.C's managing editor and recruiting guru, offers up a succinct observation: "This is definitely an athletic group. There's speed and size, and they look academically sound. Only time will tell, but right now this group looks promising."

Walden, WSU's radio color commentator, says he's studied the class and finds the athleticism downright head turning.

"There's an old saying by coaches that it does you no good to take a bad athlete and make him bigger and stronger, because all you'll have to show for it is a bigger and stronger bad athlete -- he can chew his bubble gum harder but that's about it. You take good athletes and make them bigger and stronger and you're going to wind up with great athletes.

"These kids Paul signed this year are going to be great athletes," Walden says. "This is the third class Paul has brought in and it's the cherry on top. Those first two classes had excellent athleticism. This one, though, is really frosting on the cake. They'll help those guys in front of them get better, too ... You never know exactly what you have when they're coming in, but you do when they're going out. So you can't pass any final judgment, but I think there are some really good times ahead for Washington State."

Walden believes the three recruits from Spokane are "lights out" talents who can be "program setters." They are Aaron Dunn, a 4-star tight end; Connor Halliday, the No. 25-rated quarterback in the nation; and 6-7 tackle prototype Jake Rodgers.

"You take those three, then you look at the DBs and the rest -- every position they found height, weight, speed and grades. I'm impressed."

Huffman cited the balance in the class.

"Washington State has done a good job of spreading out the class amongst positions, though they only have one linebacker committed. Still, that linebacker is the Wisconsin player of the year, Eric Oertel, who epitomizes the phrase ‘football player.' They did a good job of filling needs -- beefing up the secondary and bringing in a nice blend of receivers with speed (Blair Bomber and Robert Jiles), size (Marquess Wilson and Kristoff Williams) and all-around production (Bobby Ratliff).

The sleeper of this class, Huffman says, is cornerback Brandon Golden, who comes from one of the best programs in Southern California, Covina Charter Oak. "Golden was overshadowed by teammate Adam Muema, one of the Southland's top running backs, but Golden led a steady secondary." He called WSU's other four DB pick ups -- safety Deone Bucannon and corners Tracy Clark, Damonte Horton and Matt Simmons – "studs."

Overall, he said, the strengths are in the secondary and the group of receivers and tight ends. He calls the 6-5 Halliday, who passed for a whopping 4,177 yards and 43 TDs this past season, "a big, heady passer."

While Huffman singles out Golden as Sleeper of the Class, Bolton has a nomination, too. "Kristoff Williams is rated No. 259 in the nation at receiver. You look at his size and speed, and then his game tapes and you shake your head. By the way, the quality of competition he's facing in those tapes isn't Class B. It's first rate. I think this guy could turn out to be something."

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