Derek Harrison/The Daily Evergreen Head Football Coach Mike Leach inked 23 student-athletes to national letters of intent on Wednesday.
The 2012 class, which is full of players with various Bowl Championship Series (BCS) offers, hails mostly from Washington and California. Leach said his staff worked hard to open the California pipeline.
“We wanted to have a bigger emphasis in Southern California so I thought that was very positive,” Leach said. “But I can’t say enough about the staff and what we were able to do together."
Overall, the Cougar recruitment class is ranked last according to both Scout.com and Rivals.com. Considering the fact that Leach had only eight weeks to assemble the class, he said he was pleased.
Leach, who was hired on Nov. 30, had little time to complete his coaching staff or delve into the recruitment process, but he said his staff did outstanding work.
“I’m incredibly proud of our staff,” Leach said. “Our staff did a tremendous job as far as putting together this class in a month and a half. When you consider most of our competition had a year and a half head start, I think it’s a very impressive effort.”
In the press conference, Leach said WSU was focused on three things during recruiting: offensive linemen, defensive linemen and good football players.
Leach received signatures from seven offensive line recruits on Wednesday, including two junior college transfers.
The common trait among the offensive linemen is that many of them have experience playing on the defensive side of the ball, great footwork and big, physical bodies.
Along with the offensive linemen, this class features four wide receivers and four linebackers.
Leach said he was excited about the receivers coming to Pullman next year, highlighted by four-star prospect Gabriel Marks.
“I’m pretty excited about it, too,” Leach said. “We’re going to throw balls — and a whole bunch of them. We want to have a lot of cans to open up as we throw the ball around. They are already successful receivers and I think just a really good group of receivers.”
The Leach regime focused on speed and versatility when constructing the linebacker core and new Defensive Coordinator Mike Breske will be sure to dial up various blitz packages.
Leach said he wanted linebackers to be able move around formations rather than staying in a designated spot.
“We want quick linebackers, I think speed is really important to us for our linebackers and they all have pretty good speed,” Leach said. “We want guys that you don’t just keep in a static — guys that have the versatility to move around in other alignments.”
Leach was hesitant to commit to naming starters for next year yet.
He said it is a challenge to adapt from different levels of competition and the guys that do it the quickest will have the greatest impact.
“There’s always a little bit of a transition going from one level to the next. The guys that have the ability to adjust the quickest are the ones that have the impact,” Leach said. “We wouldn’t be recruiting them if we didn’t have a lot of respect for what they’ve already done.”
Leach was confident of his staff’s ability to complete the class and said it was one of his finest jobs during his career.
“As far as the effort and what was accomplished in this period of time, was probably the best of my career, when you consider what we were up against,” he said.