PULLMAN – Mike Levenseller has been Washington State’s receiving coach seemingly since the Mesozoic Era.
In that time he’s coached multiple NFL players, developed corps with cool nicknames like the Fab Five and helped cultivate more than a few All-Americans.
And even he was smiling on Wednesday as WSU unveiled most of its 2011 recruiting class on what’s come to be known as Signing Day, uppercase included.
The biggest reasons for Levenseller’s smile were four high school wideouts – two from Florida that are already enrolled at WSU, one from California and one from his old high school – that Levenseller sees following in the footsteps of Marquess Wilson, a freshman All-American last season.
“Last year we thought Kristoff (Williams) would play right away and we lose him to turf toe,” said Levenseller, the former Cougar receiver from Tacoma’s Curtis High who has been the school’s receiver coach for 19 years. “And Marquess becomes an All-American. With these guys added in (to the players returning), this group has a chance to be as deep as any we’ve ever had.”
Another reason for Levenseller’s smile was a late addition to the Cougars’ class, news of which was texted to the coach from another Cougar recruit.
Rahmel Dockery announced at Curtis High he would attend WSU instead of Oregon State.
“It was back and forth,” Wulff said of Dockery’s recruitment. “Not until we got the word from the press conference … that he was coming, did we know.”
Dockery, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound receiver who is also a stellar high jumper, joined defensive lineman Max Hersey as Curtis products heading to WSU.
But despite the splash of the receivers, the emphasis in Wulff’s fourth group was on bigs, with WSU already having 12 offensive or defensive linemen among its 25 players announced Wednesday and more expected before the signing period ends April 1.
Teams are allowed 25 initial scholarships each year, but Wulff said a couple of the high school recruits may grayshirt, or enter in the spring, when they can be counted against next year’s class.
“A lot of times when you sign more linemen than you sign skill guys it doesn’t look as flashy,” said Wulff, a former WSU offensive lineman. “That’s OK. When you win games, it’s the guys who aren’t flashy that win games. We’ve got some linemen in this class that are sorely needed.”
WSU lost two starting offensive and two defensive linemen to graduation and could start three seniors up front on offense and one on defense in the fall. With that in mind, Wulff said a couple of the class’s five junior college linemen may redshirt.
Linemen may have been the biggest group, but that doesn’t mean the Cougars aren’t high on quarterback Cody Clements, who threw 32 touchdown passes against just one interception as a senior at La Habra High in Southern California, or their linebacker group, rated seventh in the nation by Scout.com.
“He’s our kind of guy, athletic, extremely tough, a high-end competitor,” Wulff said of Clements, adding that the 6-2, 205-pounder will probably redshirt.
As for the linebackers, Wulff said the success just sort of happened.
“We targeted guys we liked and we were very happy to get the guys who committed to us,” Wulff said, naming 6-2, 215-pound Chester Su’a from Hawaii as the featured recruit in the group. “He’s maybe as talented as we’ve ever signed here. … He’s the total package, he’s got size, big size, great instincts, tremendous toughness and aggression and he can run.
“I could see him playing right away.”
Another of those linebackers is Logan Mayes, son of WSU record-breaking running back Rueben Mayes. The 6-3, 230-pound Mayes, who grew up in Pullman before moving with the family to Eugene, Ore., during high school, was high on Wulff’s list.
“He’s someone we’ve known about a long time,” Wulff understated. “He’s just a fanatic. He’s a football junkie and an excellent student. He’s going to give you everything he’s got and be in the right places at the right time.”
Next fall, that will be in Pullman.