WSU Notebook: Leach’s 2012 Class A Success
What an intriguing mix of speed and athleticism Head Coach Mike Leach has assembled for himself in his first go round of recruiting as Washington State Cougars head coach.
It was really quite an impressive haul if you think about the time frame and the constraints in which Mike Leach and his coaching staff had to work with.
But with all that has transpired with the Cougars football program (Paul Wulff’s exit and the drama that surrounded that whole fiasco), one can only say this has been a remarkably successful recruiting season.
So how do you define whether or not a recruiting class has been deemed a “success?”
That’s a very good question that I seem to be getting quite a bit these days. For me, it’s really quite simple. Look at your teams most glaring holes, and do your best in filling them.
I believe Coach Leach has done that. Again, it’s quite remarkable to see the potential starting impact that Leach has been able to bring in on the defensive side of the ball. Especially in the line-backing corps, where at first glance it seems like every incoming recruit has the size and speed to excel at the Pac-12 level.
It almost seemed like a next to impossible task for Leach to figure out a way to shore up a defense that gave up 157 yards per game on the ground and 409.5 in total yards per game in 2011.
Not only was Leach able fill those much needed holes on the defensive side of the ball, he also added much needed depth along the defensive line.
Let’s take a look at some of the incoming freshman. (Links go to Scout.com)
1. Ioane Gauta – DT – Junior college transfer
Fullerton Ca, 6-3, 310 lbs
Star rating -3
2. Robert Barber – DT – Faga’ Itua HS
Pago Pago AS, 6-3, 290 lbs
Star rating – 2
3. Jeremiah Allison – OLB – Susan Miller Dorsey HS
Los Angeles Ca, 6-1, 210 lbs
Star rating – 3
4. Kache Palacio – OLB – Juniper Serra HS
Gardena Ca, 6-2, 225 lbs
Star rating – 3
5. Taylor Taliulu – S – Aiea HS
Aiea HI, 5-11, 175 lbs
Star rating – 3
Here are five incoming freshman that are not only whom I consider the very best of our defensive crop, but whom I can see making an immediate impact on the field year one.
They have the right mix of height, weight, speed, and size to play major college football. But it goes beyond just being able to play major college football.
I believe these guys can start at their positions year one at a BCS level, and that is in my most honest opinion, successful recruiting. Finding BCS starters in year one.
Alright, so now that we have uncovered five names who can have immediate impact, let’s see who I consider to be the best PLAYER in the class of 2012.
Before I reveal the name, it’s important to remember that when considering the best player, It’s not just about immediate impact on the field.
Any freshman has the potential to pay immediate dividends, but it’s all about whom I consider the best to potentially be able to rise to All-Conference or even All-American status.
Here is my pick for best recruit of the 2012 class for the Cougars.
Sam Jones – OT – Pima JC
Tucon AZ, 6-7, 300 lbs
The argument for best overall player can be made for skill position players like WR’s Gabriel Marks or Robert Lewis or even OLB Khalil Pettway, but when you take into consideration the offense Mike Leach will be throwing at opposing defenses and the the need to keep QB Jeff Tuel upright.
I don’t think anyone can ignore Sam Jones’ height, and weight he will be throwing at opposing speed DE’s.
Yes, it’s always nice to see a team bring in RB’s, WR’s, and even QB’s, but it means nothing in my book if you cannot give them the opportunity to make an impact.
How do you give them that opportunity?
You put an offensive line in front of them. Enter Sam Jones.
Again, Congratulations to Head Coach Mike Leach and his entire coaching staff for the ability to round out the recruiting class with impact players all while doing it on the fly.
From the beginning it was looking like a difficult sell on kids. It’s never easy when your the new guy in, and the recruiting season is coming to a close.
In this case though, diligence paid off.
The Cougs look really good coming into 2012, and the future looks incredibly bright for next seasons recruiting class.
Insider Steve covers WSU Football for the NWSB. Stay tuned for more here.