Wulff again shows affinity for feet and frame

IT'S NOW OFFICIAL. Paul Wulff is the reincarnation of his old coaches, Jim Walden and Mike Price. Just as he did last season with his first class of recruits -- and like Walden and Price did throughout the '80s and '90s -- Wulff loaded up this recruiting cycle on tight end/defensive end types of kids.

With two classes now from which to assess, there is no doubt that Wulff has an affinity for "feet and frame" guys like his old mentors.

On the recruiting trail, that translates into envisioning prospects as they might look three years from now rather than what -- and where -- they appear to be on high school game tapes.

With good frames and feet, the TE/DE types can become not just ends, but linebackers, tackles and offensive linemen, too.

That's how a 6-6 quarterback/linebacker from Renton with virtually no other scholarship offers morphed into a second-team All-American defensive end who now plays for the Jacksonville Jacquars. Say hello to CouGreat Mkristo Bruce.

That's how a skinny tight end from Pleasanton, Calif., became a Pac-10 menace at defensive end, a first-round draft pick and then the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Say hello to Keith Millard.

The list of similar crimson success goes on. And clearly, based on the class of recruits WSU officially unveils Wednesday and the one produced a year ago, Wulff is planning to continue the trend line.

WSU's newest crop of athletes includes six players who unquestionably are "feet and frame" kids with the potential to play a variety of positions. They are:

  • Travis Long (6-5, 244) from Spokane. The No. 42-rated tight end prospect in the nation is already projected to be a defensive end who could contend for playing time immediately.

  • Chris Mastin (6-2, 205) from Spokane. The No. 55-rated defensive end in the land could stay at DE, where his speed conjures images of Isaac Brown and D.D. Acholonu, or he could find a home at outside linebacker. He also shapes up as a special teams tour de force.

  • Jordan Pu'u-Robinson (6-4, 248) from Wailuku, Hawaii. Also a nationally rated tight end (No. 61), Robinson holds about as much intrigue as anyone in the class. He's only 17, so the height and weight numbers figure to do nothing but go up. Tight end, defensive end, defensive tackle or offensive tackle all appear within in his orbit.

  • Justin Clayton (6-4, 245) from Napa, Calif. He ranks No. 65 among the nation's prep defensive end prospects but growth could also make him a run-stopper at defensive tackle.

  • Quayshawn Buckley (6-4, 270) from Ontario, Calif. The No. 54-rated offensive guard in the country has huge hands, so WSU will consider having him use those big mitts inside on the defensive line.

  • Sekope Kaufusi (6-4, 230) from San Mateo, Calif. The Bay Division Player of the Year has great wheels -- he was also standout punt returner -- and a head hunter's mentality. He could wind up at linebacker or defensive end.

    WULFF'S FIRST COUGAR recruiting class included five high school kids with tight end/defensive end types of bodies: Adam Coerper. Andrei Lintz. Skylar Stormo, Dan Spitz and Cory Mackay. All five redshirted this past season

    When spring workouts commence on March 26, you'll find MacKay (a former All-State receiver) competing for a starting spot at outside linebacker -- presuming, of course, that Chris Ball and Jody Sears are able to fend off Todd Sturdy's pleas that MacKay play tight end instead.

    Coerper, a one-time All-State performer at tight end, was recently named WSU's 2008 scout team defensive player of the year for his work at defensive end. Stormo (TE) and Spitz (DE) both distinguished themselves in 2008 for their work ethic and improvement. Lintz (TE) was hampered most of the season by a knee injury.

    "A cornerstone of Paul Wulff's recruiting game plan -- at WSU now and EWU before -- is to go after athleticism everywhere on the field. And I mean everywhere -- he wants offensive linemen and defensive tackles who have the ability to step on a basketball court and look natural," says former WSU All-American Paul Sorensen, who has been the color man on EWU radio broadcasts for many years. "He wants athleticism. Athleticism in a kid with a good frame gives you tremendous positional flexibility as a coach. This class is vintage Paul Wulff."

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