The Washington State Cougars flew under the radar, but landed some great offensive linemen like Riley Sorenson, Cody O'Connell, and Carlos Freeman, as well as quarterback Tyler Bruggman.
1. How well do you think Washington State filled positions of need in this class? Are there any places they came up short?
Leach did a great job at addressing the biggest area of concern for the Cougars since, well, since 2007: the offensive line. Leach grabbed 6 offensive linemen, including 3-star OT Riley Sorenson and 3-star C Carlos Freeman, who should help anchor the line for years to come. The Air Raid doesn't work when the QB is running for dear life, and our OL in 2012 was the opposite of good. This OL class also produced 2-star OT Cody O'Connell, who, at 6'9 & 350 lbs, is the largest WSU commit in history.
As for places that came up short, I'd like to have seen one more CB or S. It looks as though 3-star CB Marcellus Pippins committed on Signing Day (spurning an offer to greyshirt from Utah), but never signed a LOI. We're not really sure what happened there, but his addition could be quite helpful. Overall, I'd say this is a really unsexy class with all the lineman (six OL and five DL), but a foundation builder for future success on the Palouse.
2. Is Tyler Bruggman that big a recruit for the Cougars?
Simply put, yes. He was a consensus 4-star QB, and he was hand-picked by Leach. The Air Raid is a timing based offense, even though the misconception people have is that we throw deep and run 4 Verts every single play. Bruggman has accuracy in spades, and he called a lot of his own plays at Brophy Prep in Phoenix, AZ. He also recognized defensive coverages and audibles quite often, another staple of the Air Raid. Even if Bruggman doesn't work out, or sits behind more talented QBs already on the roster, it sends a bit of a message: blue chip recruits from out of state are willing to come play for Mike Leach. If we were to lose him last minute to Arizona State, it would have done more to negatively affect future recruiting than on-field play (although, I do think Bruggman is a very good QB, so it probably hurts there, too).
3. If you were to rank Washington State's position in the Pac-12 recruiting hierarchy, it would be ______ because ______.
9th or 10th because while Bruggman, Vince Mayle, Sorenson, and others make this class very good by WSU standards, boy howdy did the conference as a whole clean up. Especially UCLA. It speaks to the quality of this conference when UW can lose the players they did and still have a Top 20 class. I still believe in what Leach is doing, though, so I think in three years, Coug fans will look back at this class as the foundation for a string of bowl teams.
4. The player I think will make the most immediate impact is ____________ because ________.
WR Vince Mayle because he's just too talented not to do well in this offense. Mayle (pronounced Mah-lay) is a JC transfer, and he's huge. At 6'3 and 220 pounds, he's the perfect outside receiver in the Air Raid, and he'll replace the departed Marquess Wilson. Not sure he'll put up Wilson-esq numbers, but he should force other teams to worry about more than Gabe Marks.
5. Who are the under the radar recruits to watch for in this class who could be on the field sooner rather than later?
I'm a huge fan of WR River Cracraft. Cracraft is a bit bigger than a normal inside receiver at 6'2/202, but talking to people in the know, he's coming as an inside guy, not an outside guy. He blocks extremely well, something very important for the quick, up-tempo style Leach wants to play with. He's not a burner, but he runs great routes and catches everything. Last year, Brett Bartolone started as a true freshman when other, more heralded WRs redshirted. Bartolone understood the offense, and he could block, so he played. Cracraft will be this year's Bartolone, but with better numbers.
Another guy to watch for is CB Daquawn Brown. Brown is a hell of an athlete, and our secondary is mediocre at best, so he should get the opportunity to play right away. Not sure he starts, but he should see time in nickel and dime packages, and play Special Teams as well.