Washington State football coaches are hard at work while the rest of us enjoy a holiday season. Talking recruiting here, not taking down Christmas decorations.
Coming off a 2-10 season that left many fans grumbling or worse yet, watching the Golf Channel for sports entertainment, Coach Paul Wulff and his staff have been putting huge effort into bringing quality young men to WSU. Though talk is cheap, words of commitment to play football in Pullman have the rafters ringing with rich sounds.
Judging by the level of athletes planning to attend WSU and play football, Coach Wulff has things moving forward on a very positive note.
For example, Sebastian Valenzuela, a 6'2", 315-pound offensive lineman, is ready to pack his bags, jump on a plane out of Burbank, CA, and play for Coach Wulff. Valenzuela is just the type of player Coach Wulff needs to run his no-huddle offense. He's quick and has great balance because of excellent footwork.
Valenzuela gives credit to his awesome mobility to days on the soccer field. Can you imagine a kid his size playing soccer? Not only did he learn to be quick on his feet playing soccer, he also adapted well to a game where you aren't supposed to use your hands. It would be nice to see fewer holding penalties next season when the Cougs are on offense.
Peter Tuitupo is bringing his game to WSU. Tuitupo also brings tremendous talent to the tight end corps. He's coming off an outstanding junior college career at one of the premier programs in the country, Snow College.
How good is Tuitupo? Not only is he large—6'4", 245 pounds—he plays large. This past season he was first team All-American. Tuitupo is coming from a program that featured a power running game, yet still hauled in 25 passes. He was getting plenty of attention from the new coaching staff at Washington, but felt more comfortable and at home with Coach Wulff and the Cougar family.
One of the running backs hoping to enjoy the blocking skills of Valenzuela and Tuitupo is a young man out of one of the elite high school programs in Southern California, Centennial HS. Arthur Burns is a 5'11", 210-pound running back with blazing, 4.46 speed. He chose WSU over a host of offers, including Colorado State, UNLV, San Diego State, Cal, Oregon, and UCLA.
Burns plays big in big games. He scored twice in the state title game against De La Salle, a 21-14 victory. In the Santa Ana Bowl game against Mater Dei HS, Burns carried the ball 30 times for 260 yards and four touchdowns. Remember his name because Arthur Burns will turn heads with his skills on the football field. He's coming off a nearly 1,500-yard season. In the classroom, Burns will be pursuing an engineering degree.
Last season Coach Wulff didn't have the type of players necessary to run a no-huddle offense. Athletic skills are more important than size when it comes to fast-paced football. Coach Wulff is bringing in both, with the emphasis on athleticism.
When Coach Wulff tells young men, "I need you", the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
That's the direction of Cougar football.