WSU: An inside look at in-state '15 talent

IN THE 2015 RECRUITING CLASS, the state of Washington has plenty of D-I talent, but there's also a decided lack of depth at some positions, specifically in the secondary. CF.C takes a look at the overall class.

This is a stronger in-state class than the previous two, and that's due to its depth.

But it would be a hard sell to label it a banner crop bursting at the seams. The 2015 group doesn't feature a single 5-star recruit, nor a ton of four-star recruits. But Scout.com National Analyst Brandon Huffman, who has his finger on the pulse of the prep scene in Washington, says there is quality to be had.

"It's definitely the depth that sticks out about this class," Huffman said. "It's not like two years ago where you had Myles Jack and Max Brown, or last year with Budda Baker, but it's much improved from a depth standpoint. There's strong talent at multiple positions for this class."

ONE POSITION that has gotten a lot of recruiting press is the offensive line. The class of '15 features four o-tackle prospects with Pac-12 offers: Calvin Throckmorton and Henry Roberts out of Bellevue, Yakima's Shane Lemiuex and Wenatchee's Trey Adams. And four o-tackles is a significant number. But it comes with a caveat.

There are zero offensive guard and center prospects in the state with a Pac-12 offer. Still, the four o-linemen make it the state's deepest position in 2015, says Huffman.

"You could also make the case for the running backs too, (with Chico McClatcher and Miles Gaskin a pair of four-star recruits) although the best running back in the state is now a cornerback," said Huffman.

That would be Austin Joyner, who verbally committed to Washington State in April. Joyner, out of Marysville, is one of the highest rated players in the state at four stars and tabbed the 32nd best CB in the land by Scout.com.

If Joyner would have chosen to pursue running back at the college level, the '15 in-state DB crop would have been bleak indeed.

Other than Joyner, no other in-state cornerback or safety is being heavily recruited by D-1 programs. That could change in the camp circuit to come or during the upcoming season. Yet all things remaining equal, there are some Big Sky talents out there but Joyner might be the only Pac-12 level defensive back from the Evergreen State in '15.

"The secondary doesn't have much depth," Huffman said. "You take Joyner out of the picture and with just pure defensive backs, it's not great for this year's in-state class. Joyner is really the only top-end defensive back in the class."

IN TOTAL, there are six four-star prospects from the state on Scout.com's list, and eight three-star guys.

Of those 14 prospects, five are off the board. Joyner has verbally pledged to WSU, Gaskin to Washington, Lemieux to Oregon, QB Brett Rypien has committed to Boise State and Adams to Washington. A notable prospect, who certainly can't be forgotten, is 6-3, 250-pounds Lakes DE Benning Potoae. The four-star prospect hasn't committed yet, but recently said WSU, UW, Oregon State and UCLA are standing out to him the most.

Another player to keep track of, says Huffman, one whom has been offered and kept in constant communication with WSU, is Bellevue linebacker Mustafa Branch. The 6-0, 210-pounder holds offers from Colorado, Colorado State, WSU, Northwestern, Duke, Oregon State and a handful of others.

"There's two guys I see heating up this fall," Huffman said. "Justice Murphy (Utah WR commit who recently added a Wazzu offer) saw his recruitment start taking off after the Northwest Elite Camp and I would also expect Mustafa Branch to heat up as well. I think he was overshadowed as a sophomore playing in the same defense as Miles Jack and last year overshadowed by Marcus Griffin, Shane Bowman and Budda Baker.

"I don't think people realize how good of a player (Branch) really is. He's gotten a lot of Pac-12 attention and I think he's one of those guys that Bellevue always has that has some offers, but really picks things up in the season and becomes a pursued guy."

Other than Potoae, there are no other d-ends or d-tackles with known Pac-12 offers from the state of Washington. Other than Branch, no other in-state linebackers are known to have been offered by a Pac-12 school.

There is definitely some good Pac-12 talent from the Evergreen State in this class. But the numbers are dwarfed by a state like California. And that it is viewed as it is also speaks in part to the previous two in-state classes that lacked either high numbers of top-rated talent or appreciable depth.

ONE THING HUFFMAN added is that the Mike Leach and Chris Petersen are recruiting the talent within its borders harder than their predecessors did.

"Before, there was such a push by Sark to recruit in Southern California and with Paul Wulff, he emphasized Northern California," Huffman said. "The top-end guys from state, in previous years, were never heavily recruited by the in-state programs or they were never made a priority.

"Obviously Chris Petersen and Mike Leach have changed that in these last couple of classes and I think that will continue to change immensely. It will become tough for other Pac-12 schools to recruit in Washington because the emphasis for both WSU and UW will be placed on locking up your top in-state guys."

At the same time, Leach is going to continue to emphasize California in building the Cougar program. WSU signed two players from the state this last class, and 13 from California.

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