Friday, February 06, 2009
A HUGE thanks to our good friend Kaddy, who was able to step up and attend the football dinner in Shelton on Thursday night. As you will see, there were a lot of good things to take from this evening, and it sounds like it went off better than expected. Once again, a great event put on by Diana Bidle and the rest at WSU. Without delay, here's Kaddy's full recap. Enjoy!
After 3 years of driving to Seattle for the annual football signing day banquet, I decided to try one a little closer from my Vancouver location and drove to the event in Shelton, just north of Olympia. Attendance was better than I expected, with around 250 or so Cougar fans making the trek.
That said, I'll get right to it - Paul Wulff knows exactly what he's doing.......
In the past, like many of you, I've sat and watched the film of the recruits we just signed. I've listened to the coaches talk about how great they were, how they project to be this or that or whatever. But never can I remember someone formulating a plan better than Coach Wulff did last night. Every player they research and target, every player they end up recruiting, every player they sign, there is so much that goes into it. But each player fills a specific piece of the larger puzzle that they are turning into a Cougar football program on the rise.
You may already know this, but we'll say it right now - These coaches are personable, aggressive, confident, and not willing to take a back seat to anyone - and I mean anyone - when recruiting athletes to WSU.
That said, last night Wulff was quick to point out that they only recruit players that they really believe will fit at WSU. Wulff talked about the "charade" that high school recruiting has become, with players sitting in front of a bunch of cameras, choosing from 3 different hats to reveal where they decided to go. Those types of hot-shot, me-first kids? They aren't the players that want to go to WSU, and those aren't the players that this coaching staff wants. They really don't recruit them...at all. This staff wants blue collar kids. Mentally tough kids. High character kids. Kids that want to play their guts out for Washington State University.
With that out of the way, some other interesting items learned last night:
Bill Doba offered Wulff an assistant coaching job a few years ago. Wulff turned it down, obviously. But not because he didn't want to come to Pullman. Instead, Wulff felt that he had just turned the corner of rebuilding Eastern. He could have had a bigger paycheck by coaching at a BCS school, and heck, he could have been tabbed the unofficial "heir apparent" to the throne. But nope. Loyalty and wanting to see the fruits of their labor in Cheney kept him there. And we know how that story worked out, as Wulff was quite successful in building and maintaining a fine program at EWU.
Washington tried to change the minds of virtually every commitment in the state from WSU. They failed, on all of them. Another testament to the character of the kids WSU recruited.
Casey Locker hates - absolutely HATES - the huskies. The place went nuts when Wulff mentioned that!
On to the young men that signed LOI's with our beloved school...
I have to admit that I am no longer worried about the DT position. Bernard Wolfgramm is healthy. Josh Luapo will play DT. Quayshawne Buckleyis too good to keep off the field next year, even though he's only 18. He will also play DT. Throw in Toby Turpin, who really came on last year, and we have four solid players for next year, with another player or two that may get thrown into the mix. Wulff likes to play with six DT's in the rotation.
Other players that will immediately make us better in 2009, that had to sit out in 2008 via transfers, redshirts, or injury:
Jesse Feagin, DE
Zach Williams, OT
Tyson Pencer, OT
The Cal transfers - Brandon Jones, CB, and James Montgomery, RB
Jessy Sanchez, DE
Jonathan Solomon, WR (he transferred from Eastern).
We've heard these names described before, but it was nice to be reminded that they will actually PLAY in 2009!
Other tidbits worth noting:
The tight end situation - Right now, Andrei Lintz, Tony Thompson, and Zack Taffon will all play.
Newcomer Justin Clayton - He will move to DT. He has "a huge butt and huge legs...a natural fit."
Elliott Bosh - walk on from Spokane will make some noise - no one knows about this kid. Can't remember what position.
Travis Long - like Quayshawne Buckley - there is no way they can keep him off the field next season. Just too much talent, with a huge motor. Very intelligent too with a 3.9 gpa. Already at 6-4, 240, and possesses all the intangibles.
Jordan Pu'u - Robinson: he will move to DT.
Brandon Rankin oozes NFL talent. He won't make grades this year, but Wulff feels he is going to be worth the wait and investment. Just a GREAT kid.
Sekope Kaufusi - 230 lbs now, but his frame can handle up to 290! He will probably move to DT.
Jamal Atofau - his film reminds me a lot of Louis Bland...just a knack for finding the ball. Big hitter too. He will play this fall.
Asi Hosea - every clip of this kid hitting someone ended with that player on his back. Wulff said we don't even have many kids on the current WSU team that hit as hard as he does. He has a few grade issues to resolve but could be a real find.
Nolan Washington - has a huge burst, with closing speed. He left everyone in the dust...lots of speed.
Terell Thompson - compared his speed and athleticism to Mark Fields. Most likely won't make grades, but they'll place him in a JC with intentions of bringing him back in 2 years.
William Prescott will grayshirt.
Sebastian Valenzuela - "as nasty & mean on film as they've ever seen." Not the typical O-lineman that Wulff likes, which is long and rangy, but he played soccer as a kid in Argentina, and has great feet. He could be a 4-year starter, and will probably take over for Kenny Alfred at Center.
Arthur Burns reminds him of a Broussard type of back - has the talent to play right away, but they won't need him immediately. He'll likely redshirt.
Keith Gilbertson's son will walk on to WSU, with his dad's blessing. Good, athletic QB from Redmond High.
We don't need a WR to replace Gibson - we just need more reliable receivers, and we'll have them. Jeshua Anderson's biggest problem is that he only focuses on football during the season, so he isn't getting any stronger, and gets pushed around on the field. The reality is, that probably won't change, with all the time he spends with track.
We'll have ONE Senior starter on Offense - (Kenny Alfred?) - next year, and three seniors on Defense. Yep, we're going to be YOUNG.
Marshall Lobbestael is walking without crutches or a brace, and can already take three-step drops. While he will be very limited this spring and will participate in some skeleton drills, the staff is very confident he'll be 100% by August. Indications are that he'll start, although Wulff wouldn't commit to it. He also said they are high on JT Levenseller.
The new strength coach is the best Wulff has ever been around. The feeling we got was that Oviatt didn't push kids very hard to improve their strength, which is why our players are so skinny. Kevin Kooyman, anyone?
Jeff Tuel - the real deal! He only started one year, probably for political reasons more than anything else. Beau Sweeney was ahead of him. Hmm, does the last name Sweeney in the Fresno area ring a bell? That's right, Beau Sweeney is Jim Sweeney's grandson. Tuel's coaches say he is much better than Sweeney was. Wulff wouldn't hand him the keys to the team, but said that Tuel has the talent to be a 3-year starter. He's athletic, smart, and has a great arm. If you've seen the Youtube highlights, you will understand the praise. His team was horrible, with no talent surrounding him, but they still won the Sectional Championship. He basically carried the whole team. A fantastic all-around athlete, he also throws a 90 mph fastball!
The coaches in attendance were Wulff, Rasmussen, Sturdy, and Bruiser.
Celebrities in attendance included Alex Brink and Ropati Pitoitua. When informed that a WSU Football Blog representative was in attendance, Brink suddenly rose from his chair and shouted "I WANT BRINKHATER! WHERE HE AT!?!" We quickly ducked out a side exit. (not really) :)
Finally, on a sad note - Tom Pounds was there from Albuquerque. He founded the Ol' Crimson Booster Club, and manages the Gameday flag waving. Great guy. His wife passed away a week ago Monday...I think she was ill. He still came - what a trooper.
Thanks again Kaddy! An outstanding recap of a night chalk full of great information about where we're headed with the program. After reading all this, my first thought was WHEN DOES SPRING BALL START?? I believe it's late March.
ENJOY THE WEEKEND, and GO COUGS!