After a last place Pac-10 finish and 1-8, (conference) 2-10 (non-conference) losing football season, many Cougar faithful, including myself, were eagerly awaiting National Letter of Intent Signing Day to see what new talent will arrive on campus. After all, one of the strengths of Head Coach Paul Wulff is his supposed ability to evaluate and recruit football talent according to the steady diet of PR out of the WSU athletic dept. to restless fans looking for improvement.
Interestingly, the 2011 recruiting class is as much due to new “super hero” AD Bill Moos (yes I am a fan) as it is Coach Wulff. How’s that you say? Well, Moos has stated publically that he met each new recruit & their family at the “Night with Cougar Football” road show. Now, one wonders if that was out of necessity to prop up Coach Wulff after constant questions about his long-term tenure. Nonetheless, it shows the level of commitment & involvement by Moos in this newly recruited class. Now with that level of involvement, we must judge success of the Wulff/Moos 2011 class, in terms of results, once the players hit the field. In other words, Moos owns this class regardless of what happens to Wulff.
So how did the WSU Cougars do in terms of quality new recruits? Did they “Coug it” or will this be the turning point on the way to greater success? The answer to the second questions is “NO” the Wulff/Moos team did not “Coug it” with the 2011 recruits. Yes, there were some losses in key recruits, like Spokane’s 4-star RB Bishop Stankey and Stephen Nembolt to Colorado but the Cougs did a pretty good job bringing in talent where they needed it most. The O & D Line!!
WSU signed 25 football players last week for its 2011 class. Five of those were JC transfers and 10+ players were offensive lineman. Given that WSU had some of the worst offensive & defensive line stats the past couple of years, plugging the holes on the “line” with depth & talent was critical. As Coach Wulff said on signing day, “this is not a flashy class with more linemen than skill guys”, but the players we recruited will be “critical to winning games in the future”.
So did the Cougs get the talent they were looking for? Yes, the Cougs landed some skill position talent in the signing of Curtis High WR Rahmel Dockery (5-10, 175 lbs). The Cougs have done well with Curtis High talent and I expect the speedster Dockery to make his name known in short order on the return and receiving teams. Rumor has it the Huskies “passed on him” because of size, however, this is exactly the player the Cougs love so mark this down a Coug gain and a UW loss.
The Cougars also added another talented QB in Cody Clements out of California, however, we won’t likely see him other than as a redshirt in the 2011 season unless there are significant injuries in the current QB stable. Other skill position talent added to the 2011 class was a last minute recruit in RB Marcus Mason. With the graduation of James Montgomery and another Coug RB transfer, Mason could actually see playing time this year if he comes in prepared to compete.
On the Defensive side of the ball, the Cougar’s signed Oregon’s Top Defensive player of the year, LB Logan Mayes (son of Cougar great Rueben Mayes). He was recruited by many of the Pac-10 schools. But with dad’s ties to the Cougs, most thought he would not go anywhere else and we are certainly glad to have him on board. Another D-player who I am excited to see play is Hawaiian 4-star recruit, Chester Sua, who will play Linebacker for the WSU. He is the kind of player that I expect will receive immediate playing time and could be one of the players who becomes a house hold name in short order to most Cougs.
A couple of other new recruits of interest are 350 lb. Lineman Wendell Taiese out of Oakland, CA and David Davis, grandson of Green Bay Packers Willie Davis. They will definitely add much needed bulk to the Cougar front line and add hope that we will see vast improvement in the run game.
Overall, I give the recruiting Wulff/Moos 2011 recruiting class a B grade. Not sexy as Wulff states, but I love that WSU went after linemen in a big way which should give us the depth & talent on-line where it is needed the most. If things go the way Wulff & Moos expect, we could be bowling next year. So send in the season ticket renewals now & buy them if you don’t. It’s now time to get on board for what the coaches say will be a winning season.