Washington State football fans all remember the 2014 season as a hurricane Katrina type disaster. Everyone expected the Cougars to make it to a bowl game for the second year in a row. Those hopes were smashed like Kanye West snatching a grammy away from Beck. The one thing WSU had going for it was the great class they had coming in for 2015. Kanye snatched that away too on signing day.
There's a feeling among Cougar fans that we just can't get a break. It looked like WSU coaches had an impressive top-30 class committed, but on signing day several highly ranked commits bailed and signed with other teams. By the end of the day the Cougar class had dropped nearly 20 spots to end up ranked 49th in the nation and 9th in the Pac-12. Author Update: WSU is now ranked 43rd due to Scout.com raising CB Sean Harper to 3-stars.
Even with all the players ditching WSU at the last minute, the Cougars still landed a very solid recruiting class, probably the best class that Mike Leach has had at WSU yet.
One way to judge this class is to look at what other teams the Cougars beat to land these players. Nearly all of the new players had multiple offers from other Power-5 conference teams, something that is new for WSU. Under previous coach Paul Wulff the Cougars were battling the likes of Montana, Eastern Washington, and Idaho for players (and losing the battle). With Leach WSU is now regularly beating out other PAC-12 and Power-5 conference schools for good players.
Leach also filled several needs for the team, landing a very good group of defensive players and a much needed kicker. It is clear that Leach was going after players that can make an immediate impact, including five junior college players that should step right into PAC-12 play.
Defensive players include junior college transfers Treshon Broughton, Jeremiah Mitchell, Aaron Porter, and Shalom Luani. All should see immediate playing time, if not stepping directly into starting roles.
Broughton (3-stars) and Luani (4-stars) are both defensive backs and should quickly become starters in the very weak Cougar defensive backfield. Broughton was committed to Oregon State but flipped to WSU when Mike Riley left. Luani held offers from Washington, Illinois and Oregon State. Mitchell is a 4-star defensive end that could make a difference on the line. He had offers from Oregon, Tennessee, and Oregon State. Porter is a 4-star linebacker that played two years at UCLA before heading to JC. He held offers from Nebraska and San Diego State.
The Cougs also landed 4-star DT Thomas Toki out of St. Francis High School (Mountain View, CA). At 6'-1" and 300 lbs. Toki could contribute immediately. He held over 21 offers, including Oklahoma State, UCLA, ASU, Utah, OSU, Cal and Colorado. Hard-hitting safety Kameron Powell is another 4-star recruit out of Upland HS (Upland, CA) that could make a quick start for the Cougars. He held offers from USC, UCLA, Utah, Washington, OSU and others. Cornerback Darrien Molton is a 3-star recruit out of Chaparral HS (Temecula, CA) that could see the starting lineup. He had offers from Cal, Colorado, Utah and others.
Safety Deion Singleton is a 4-star recruit out of Pasco, WA who signed in 2014 but did not play. He is enrolled and set to participate in spring drills. He was a big-name recruit from last year that sat out. He had many offers, including LSU, Tennessee, Arkansas and Ole Miss. He could be a big factor at safety for the Cougs.
Defensive ends Hunter Mattox and T.J. Fehoko both are solid recruits that could get in the mix. Mattox (3-stars) is the bigger of the two at 6'-4", 272 lbs. and had offers from Oregon State and Fresno State. Fehoko was a surprise, flipping from Utah to WSU on signing day. He led the nation in sacks with 34 in 2013, a Utah high school record, and had offers from Utah, Colorado, Oregon State, NC state, and others.
Logan Tago is a 3-star LB from American Samoa and had offers from Washington, Oregon State, Colorado and others. DE Nnamdi Oguayo is a 2-star recruit that Indiana, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Purdue and others were after.
With the signing day defections the Cougars have some spots left to fill and on February 5th signed 3-star DB Sean Harper out of Hart County High School in Georgia. New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was familiar with Harper from his time coaching at Missouri.
Washington State's offensive class is highlighted by 3-star QB Tyler Hilinksi out of Upland HS (Upland, CA). He passed for 2,738 yards, 22 TD's and 5 INT's as a senior. He is very accurate, completing 68% of his passes. He had other offers from Cal and Utah State.
At wide receiver the Cougars signed three players. Kyrin Priester is a 3-star transfer from Clemson. Kyle Sweet is a 3-star big-bodied (6'-1", 190 lbs.) possession-type receiver. He played with current Cougar receiver River Cracraft at Santa Margarita Catholic HS (Dove Canyon, CA). He had offers from Hawaii, New Hampshire and Northern Arizona. Many have called him an under-the-radar steal for the Cougars. Out of junior college the Cougars found CJ Dimry, a 2-star receiver who caught 26 passes for 541 yards (20.8 yards-per-catch) last season. He looks to be a project-type player, but at 6'-5" has the potential to be a game-changing wide receiver.
The only running back signed by the Cougs is 3-star James Williams. At Burbank HS (Burbank, CA) he had 2,350 all-purpose yards and 29 TD's as a junior. He tore his ACL as a senior but still had offers from Arizona and Cal.
At tackle the Cougars went with a pair of 3-star players that are both over 270 lbs. and 6'-5". Joseph Price (Redlands East Valley HS, Redlands, CA) had offers from Cal and Fresno State. Davis Perrott only played O-line his senior year and still had double-digit offers, including Boise St., Cal, Colorado, UNLV, and Nevada. Both of these guys will likely redshirt to build up their weight and strength.
The Cougars have three recruits at guard. Cedric Bigge-Duren (easily the best name of this year's class) is a 3-star player who stands 6'-6" and weighs 310 lbs. He had offers from Nevada, San Jose State and others. Out of La Lomas HS (Walnut Creek, CA) is 3-star Noah Myers. At 6'-5" and 300 lbs. he had offers from Montana and Weber State. From American Samoa comes 2-star Amosa Sakaria. He is 6'-3", 280 lbs. and had an offer from Hawaii. These players will probably all redshirt also.
Out of Casa Grande HS (Petaluma, CA) comes kicker Matt Abramo. Kicking was a problem all year in 2014, and Abramo should step right into the competition. He was rated 3-stars and hit 10 of 12 field goals as a senior with a long of 46 yards, with 42 of his 54 kickoffs going for touchbacks.
While this isn't the class that Cougar fans had hoped for, it is easily the best one in the last 10 years. Leach got several players that will instantly make the team better, especially on defense.