Wulff's Way: geography, flexibility, r-shirts

KEVIN FRANK

PAUL WULFF AND STAFF only had six weeks to fit in a year's worth of recruiting, but that's all you need to spot the philosophical cornerstones that will guide Washington State's football recruiting efforts in the years ahead. Wulff is a man who knows how he wants to run things and the recruiting class he unveiled Wednesday illustrates that fact vividly.

The bread and butter of Washington State recruiting always has been Washington and California, but in recent years Texas, Arizona and Colorado have been Cougar hunting grounds.

Not this time. Wulff's class entirely is made up of kids from Washington, Oregon and California. Why? Because, Wulff said Wednesday, it's hard to sell the parents of prospects outside the West Coast that it's OK if they don't see their kid's games in person very often.

If you had to pick a couple of watchwords from Wulff's press conference, they'd be development and versatility.

Wulff has said since he came on board in mid-December that WSU has a lot of holes. He reiterated that Wednesday. The way he plans to go about filling them is by taking a long-term approach, rather than a quick-fix method.

"The thing you'll notice in our class is the majority of guys are multiple-position players," he said. "The thing about building a program is the more players you recruit that are multiple position guys ... when there's attrition and you have a hole, instead of going the junior college route, you're able to move players that are in your program.

"We need to find 'retention' players. That's what we need right now in the first class."

The two areas that were identified as being most in need of depth were the defensive line and secondary, he said.

All five of DBs Wulff recruited were from the prep ranks. On the defensive line, three of the Cougars' four 2007 starters need to be replaced for the coming year, and that meant more JC players at that spot.

"I'd love to redshirt (Bernard Wolfgramm), obviously, but he may be good enough to have an immediate impact to where he can make a difference. Bernard has a tremendous upside,along with Zack Williams, an offensive lineman. Those two are as good of linemen in the junior college ranks that we could ask for," said Wulff.

Josh Luapo is another JC player Wulff said could play his way onto the field this season. But Wulff also said he still hopes to be able to redshirt some of the JC d-linemen and also that any of the JC players could redshirt.

"You just seem to get more production from athletes who come in and redshirt their first year (whether they're) high school or junior college ...(It's about) who has the opportunity to truly start, who has the chance to give us valuable playing time. If they're not in that position, then we're going to need to redshirt them," said Wulff.

Redshirting, Wulff said, is a concept he believes in firmly. He'd like to redshirt the entire class of prep pickups but also said that might not be realistic. Still, consistently good programs feature mature players, he said, and the extra year of seasoning that's secured via redshirting translates to maturity and stability in a program and ultimately, wins.

WULFF SAID ONE OF the goals in this class was to recruit the highly competitive kid who's going to put in extra work.

"If we can get a team full of those kinds of guys, we've got something going," said Wulff.

One of those guys could be Andrei Lintz. Wulff said Arizona State came on strong late for the Bellingham product, as did a few other programs after he verbally committed to Wazzu.

"He has the potential to be one of the better players in the Pac-10 if all things fall in place for him in the weight room," said Wulff.

Wulff said a few of the signees may end up as grayshirts but declined to name candidates. Wulff also said the Cougs could sign another player or two "in the next few days."

WULFF SAID WSU has a few offers out to juniors in the class of 2009 but that the evaluation stage is in it's early going. He said he's looking forward to this next class most because the WSU coaches now will have an entire year to recruit to Washington State and to get in on the ground floor with kids not yet committed elsewhere -- something that wasn't the case in '08.

"Now, we're in a position to start creating contacts. The one thing about this staff that you guys will see over the next few years is I think they're phenomenal recruiters. Recruiting is about energy, recruiting is about wanting to be persistent and create relationships...I think our ability to recruit from here on out is going to be outstanding, and you'll see that in the upcoming years," said Wulff.

SOUNDBITES:
On Redmond receiver/linebacker Cory Mackay: "There's a chance of (tight end) but I think he's going to be an inside type of a receiver. He could be split out, a big target middle of the field type of guy. He could be used as a tight end at times. I think with our offense, we're going to move skill position players around into a lot of different areas, they're not going to be real stagnant in terms of our formations."

On JC running back Chantz Staden: "He truly is a running back first. The nice thing about Chantz is he's been lined up at receiver and got screens and run routes. He's a very versatile athlete...We started looking through a lot of film (in December) and he was truly one of the most versatile players we've seen at the position in the junior college ranks...he's still got some academic work left to finish but he's a high character kid..and he will be a good football player for us."

On Oregon tight end/defensive end Adam Coerper: "We saw him on film and any time you can see a 6-5, 230- pound kid run like he runs and be as physical as he is...he lost a kidney when he was a young child, he only has one kidney...and he's the kind of kid Washington State has made a living on. It wasn't that long ago, 7-8 years ago, I recruited a player (Michael Roos).. who had absolutely no scholarship offers and he's started every game in the NFL three straight seasons."

On 16-year old defensive back Terrance Hayward: "If you look at him physically, he's very impressive...Terrance has got a chance to be a really, really good player. Again, we've got to find those guys that are right there under the radar who have great upside in the future and he's clearly one of those guys."

On Long Beach Poly receiver Kevin Norrell and Michael Vandenkolk: "The thing you'll find about those guys is they'll probably be the first ones at practice and the last ones to leave...they have the work ethic that is going to make players around them better. They've got leadership skills and we need a strong insertion of that on this football team right now. (Kevin was) under the radar because they didn't have a quarterback."

On Lakewood quarterback Calvin Schmidtke: "The thing about Calvin is he's very good with his feet, he's very competitive and will be able to run our system quite well. I think Calvin has a chance to be an awfully, awfully good football player...I think in our system height really shouldn't end up being an issue...He's between 5-11 and 6-foot.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Wulff said there were "very few" Cougar signees he was actively pursuing while at Eastern. Mike Ledgerwood and Skylar Stormo were two he named he had in his camp at Cheney but didn't think they'd be able to get them to sign with Eastern.

  • Cornerback Kevin Frank was one player named by Wulff who has a chance to play as a true freshman and could be the fastest player in the class. "He's what you would call a true cover corner. He's got a lot of upside and could also be an outstanding receiver, so he's got that flexibility.

  • By re-signing Tyson Pencer, a member of last year's recruiting class, he's locked into Washington State through the fall. Assuming Pencer receives clearance from the NCAA by May, he'll enroll in summer school and join the football program ahead of fall camp. Both Pencer and J.T. Levenseller fit into last year's class.

  • Wulff again confirmed Darryl Blunt is no longer with the team. On Washington soliciting $150M in public funds for Husky Stadium Wulff first laughed and then declined to fully comment.

  • Wulff said the staff is continuing to go after kids from this '08 class they want to walk-on at Washington State, but that he cannot comment on them specifically per NCAA rule.

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