(This part two of a series exploring the future of the WSU football program)
The college football bowl season is getting into full swing. There is something special about following your team into a game that offers a national audience exposure to "your guys."
For Coach Paul Wulff and his staff, this is a challenging part of their season. You see, college football has become a year-round process. It's no longer about practicing for a few weeks in the summer and then playing out a schedule.
If Washington State is going to improve its football program, work done between Thanksgiving and Letter of Intent signing in February is crucial. The sole focus of the football staff is to recruit the best possible student/athletes.
Attending WSU isn't for every college student. Pullman truly is a unique place. Because it isn't for everyone, smart recruiting requires sizing up young men to see if they are a proper fit for not just playing football for Coach Wulff, but flourishing on the campus of Washington State.
The recruiting process is like just about every other element of college football. It's all about fundamentals.
A good football program requires a network to extend beyond the coaching staff. In other words, it's about who you know and the level of trust shared.
When it comes to a network in the state of Washington, Coach Wulff gets high marks. Not only is he well known among high school coaches, he's respected. That's a very important factor in seeking out excellent football prospects who will do well on all levels at WSU.
Judging by the verbal commits to WSU, Coach Wulff and his staff are seeing some very positive results for their efforts.
Assistant coaches have regions to focus their attention. They are responsible for vetting potential recruits through close contact with the young men, their parents and their high school coaches. Coordinating visits to Pullman and the homes of each potential recruit is a key component.
In short, the success or weakness of recruiting comes with the respective level of effort put in by assistant coaches.
It's one thing to offer a trite "very positive" description of the recruiting status at WSU thus far and quite another to detail how things are going.
- The top two Washington HS defensive backs, Casey Locker and Jamal Atofau are strong verbal commits to WSU.
- Top Washington HS defensive end Chris Mastin from Spokane is a strong verbal commit
- Top Washington HS wide receiver, and four star prospect, Gino Simone is a strong verbal commit to Coach Wulff
Need more backup for the label "very positive" to be applicable to WSU recruiting?
This recruiting class will include roughly 20 scholarship players. A glance at other future Cougs clearly shows what direction the program is headed.
- Anthony Carter is a three-star safety from Gardena, CA
- Nolan Washington is a three-star corner back from Burien, WA with 4.5 speed
- Anthony Burns is a three-star running back who led Centennial HS to a CIF Championship with 4.46 speed
- William Prescott is a two-star offensive tackle out of Riverside, CA with a huge upside
- Quayshawn Buckley is a three-star offensive lineman out of Ontario, CA
- Andre Barrington is a three-star safety from Federal Way, WA with 4.5 speed
- Jeff Tuel is a three-star quarterback out of Fresno, CA with a strong arm and great feel for the game
- Justin Clayton is a three-star defensive tackle from Napa, CA
- Darren Markle is a monster three-star linebacker out of Meridian, ID with 4.59 speed carrying 230 pounds of muscle
Though the players listed are recognized as top players by Scout.com and other high school rating services, each is a great fit for Washington State. As a group they are all good students and excited about playing for Coach Wulff and his style of football.
The recruiting effort is hardly over. Not even close.
Once the bowl season is over, there will be a final push by successful programs to snag kids who they believe will fill a need to complete their roster. Getting back to another bowl game next season isn't just about prestige, it's about money. Don't kid yourself. The present state of college football is all about the money.
The recruiting process for the month of December has been all about retaining commits who are being lured by new head coaches. Coach Sarkisian at the UW is trying to work his magic to keep top prospects on the west side of the Cascades. He's not the only one out on the recruiting trails.
It's all about the fundamental process. Working hard to maintain and strengthen relationships with recruits will lead to excitement on LOI Day in February.
For Cougar Nation, WSU football is moving in a "very positive" direction.