Way back in the mid-90s when Rick Neuheisel was just getting started as the head coach at Colorado, I remember reading a college football preview mag where he said the most obvious, and true, statement when it came to recruiting: "It's a lot easier to recruit kids when you're 10-2 than when you're 5-6."
Yup, Slick Rick certainly has a way with words.
I realize that statement is not breaking news for anybody, but it's the best way I can describe recruiting at Washington State right now. Last year the program looked on the rise after Mike Leach's second season in Pullman that included going to a bowl game for the first time in a decade. This year they have taken a step back and are currently 3-7.
So how is the 2015 recruiting class shaping up so far? Let's just say it's a lot easier to recruit when you go to a bowl game than when you're 3-7.
The Cougs have some good recruits currently committed, but 3-7 means they may not necessarily stay committed.
Instant impact commit(s)
Commitments can always be dicey even for hot college football programs, but the commitment of 4 star athlete Austin Joyner is especially soft. He has official visits planned to other schools in addition to Wazzu. One visit is to Washington, a school he was previously committed to.
For now, let's assume he sticks with the Cougars. If he does, then he can be someone who should contribute immediately on the field. He has the skills to play several different positions and could be a weapon at running back, but also in the slot in Leach's Air Raid offense. He has that elite burst that would make him an asset to any program and it would be huge to keep him in the fold.
The other player who can make an immediate impact and appears to be a solid commitment right now is 4 star defensive tackle Thomas Toki. Toki does not have ideal height or length for a defensive lineman, but he is extremely explosive off the ball and has the size to compete right away at the college level.
He has the chance to develop into a disruptive presence in the middle of the Cougs defense for several seasons.
Don't sleep on ______
3 star safety Kameron Powell may not be the most fluid player in coverage and doesn't have great size, but he's a big time hitter in run support and is a physical presence that can intimidate receivers catching the ball over the middle of the field.
He's just one of those players that seems to have a nose for the football and has a knack for creating or scooping up turnovers. He should be someone that helps immediately on special teams and has the chance to be a solid starter later in his career.
Big fish still on the reel
When your season has been a pretty big disappointment, blue chip players aren't exactly clamoring to join your program so the list of top guys still realistically out there for Washington State is pretty small. One name that stands out on the list though is 4 star athlete Stanley "Scrappy" Norman. He recently took a visit to Pullman and they are still in the running to land him.
Norman has the talent to be a very good receiver, but I believe his best position is cornerback at the next level. He has the speed to make an impact at either position and despite being a little slight in terms of his weight, he is a physical player that isn't afraid to come up and tackle.
His high school team is loaded with highly ranked recruits where he is just one of many significant pieces to the puzzle for them. If he wants to be a big fish in a small pond, then Wazzu could definitely end up being his choice.
Not matter the position he ends up concentrating on, he'll bring a swagger to his new team and would be a huge get for the Cougs.
This class has some really good skill talent committed with players like Joyner and a receiver with a big updside in 3 star Deontay Burnett. If they can add a player like Norman and add some more depth along the offensive and defensive line, then this class could certainly be a bright spot in what has been a down year.
The obvious issue is that the chances of all of those things falling into place with the way the season has gone are pretty slim. That's what 3-7 can do to a program. If they don't win the last two games of the season, at Arizona State and versus the Huskies in the Apple Cup, then 3-9 is going to make it even harder to recruit for the 2016 class.
Slick Rick was not a genius when he said it's easier to recruit when you win and a lot harder to recruit when you lose, but you can't say he was wrong.