Cougar Football Head Coach Mike Leach is a man of polarizing traits. Humor, confidence and intelligence are just a few characteristics that help define the undefinable coach.
The coach’s track record and personality are part of the reason why 12 players have already given a verbal commitment to WSU for the 2013 recruiting class. These are not just any players; we’re talking three to four star recruits.
Leach had 84 wins and 43 losses while coaching at Texas Tech University, including five bowl victories. The most significant win of Leach’s career was probably in 2008 when Texas Tech knocked off the number-one team in the country, the Texas Longhorns (39-33).
Leach's success at Texas Tech caught the eyes of high school players from all over the state of Texas and made them want to become a part of something special. This same appeal could be developing in Pullman for years to come.
One of Leach’s highly-touted recruits is wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers. Ayers is a three-star receiver from Lancaster, Texas, according to ESPN and Rivals.com.
“What Coach Leach did at Tech was amazing,” Ayers said in an interview with ESPN.com.
So far three of the 12 players verbally committed to WSU are from the state of Texas (Ayers, defensive end Malik Jenkins and defensive back Myron Turner.) Because it is obvious Leach still has connections in the Lone Star State, I expect more players from Texas to don crimson and gray in the future.
Besides success and connections, style is another reason WSU is turning into a hot spot for recruiting. Leach and his staff run the Air-Raid (pass first) offense, which was the main reason WSU was able to land another high-profile recruit this offseason in quarterback Tyler Bruggman.
Bruggman is a four-star prospect from Phoenix, and is ranked as the 13th best quarterback in the country, according to Rivals.com.
Looking at some of the other players WSU has landed, you can tell Leach has done his homework in recruiting thus far.
Olito Thompson is another prospect to keep your eye on. The high school senior will look to continue his record-breaking pace in his senior season after setting the Northern California high school record last season with 3,488 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns last season.
Thompson is a big, physical running back who runs out of the shotgun; the same style of offense Leach will run at WSU.
Running back Gerard Wicks is also part of the 2013 recruiting class. Wicks is similar to Thompson: physical and large.
These are the types of running backs Leach is targeting because it fits his style the best. With the quarterback planning to throw the ball most of the time, a running back’s main priority in the Air Raid offense is to block and protect his quarterback. Not only are these two backs great at running the ball, their physicality and aggression make them a benefit for blocking.
On the defensive side of recruiting, progress is still in the works. The only major commitment so far is linebacker Peyton Pelluer from Sammamish. Pelluer is a four-star recruit, according to ESPN.com. During his junior year at Skyline High School, he had an astonishing 153 tackles and will look to improve his stats even more his senior season.
Defense is the biggest area Leach will need to work on the rest of the year. Twelve verbal commitments is a great accomplishment, and the Cougars haven’t even started their 2012 season. Imagine what the recruiting scenario will look like after this season if the Cougars can win early in the season on national television, and possibly win a bowl game later on.
This process is exciting and complicated, but at the same time, it's just getting started. The future of WSU football is already being molded, so stay tuned.