FIRST-YEAR COUGAR football coach Paul Wulff looks to be taking a chapter out of the Jim Walden and Mike Price recruiting handbook. When letters of intent are signed next Wednesday, the Cougars’ haul is expected to include no less than seven tight end/defensive end types. Price and Walden, both of whom Wulff played for, also loved to load up on those "feet and frame" kids.
The reasoning is straight forward: Tight ends and defensive ends tend to have big frames and good feet. If they can’t catch, they can move to the defensive line. If they’re a step slow, they can move to the offensive line. In short, they’re multi-dimensional athletes you can do a lot with in the weight room to fill specific needs.
The most celebrated such creature in modern Cougar history was Keith Millard, a lanky tight end from Pleasanton, Calif. Walden turned him into a fearsome defensive end, first-round draft choice and eventual NFL defensive player of the year.
Dorian Boose, a mainstay at defensive end on WSU’s 1998 Rose Bowl team, was a standout tight end, linebacker and punter at Tacoma’s Foss High. He went on to play for the New York Jets. One of his Cougar linemates, long-time Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Rob Meier, was the offensive MVP of the Canadian high school all-star game.
Another well-known guy with a tight end’s body who arrived in Pullman with good height, good feet and not enough weight was a 6-foot-6 quarterback/linebacker from Liberty High in Renton who morphed into consensus second-team All-American defensive end Mkristo Bruce. Bruce spent this past season with the Oakland Raiders.
Wulff’s first Cougar recruiting class includes five high school kids -- all, by the way, from the Pacific Northwest -- who possess tight end/defensive end types of bodies –- bodies that could turn into not only tight ends and defensive ends, but defensive tackles and offensive linemen as well. Note in the bios below that all five were two-way prep standouts.
* Adam Coerper (6-5, 230, 4.60) from Hood River (Oregon) High
Named first-team all-league at both tight end and defensive end.
* Andrei Lintz (6-4, 225, 4.67) from Meridian High in Bellingham
First-team All-State at defensive end and punter, and first-team all-district at tight end.
* Skylar Stormo (6-5, 220, 4.80) from Kamiak High in Mukilteo
First-team all-league and all-area at both tight end and defensive end.
* Dan Spitz (6-6, 250, 4.80) from Mead High in Spokane
First-team all-classifications All-State at defensive end, but soft hands made him a standout tight end as well.
* Cory Mackay (6-4, 215, 4.60) from Eastlake High in Redmond
An all-area pick ay wide receiver and an all-league pick at linebacker, where he posted 18 sacks in 2007. Projected as a tight end by WSU and was recruited as DE by other schools.
In addition to those prepsters, Wulff has secured pledges from two junior college players who are defensive ends. And while they, too, could be candidates to move around, the combination of the Cougars’ most pressing on-field needs and the limited eligibility window of JC transfers would suggest they are indeed destined to play DE. Those two players are:
* Jesse Sanchez (6-3, 260) from West Los Angeles CC via Culver City, Calif.
Very physical player who posted 65 tackles from his DE spot in 2007. Big enough to stop the run but has speed to get upfield. Has three years to play two.
* Bernard Wolfgramm (6-3, 270, 4.80) from College of San Mateo via Torrance, Calif.
A 4-star prospect with offers from Cal, Kansas State and Hawaii. Had 9.5 TFLs in 2007.