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Hawaiian safety with Oregon, USC offers commits to Washington State

UPDATED: Fri., June 28, 2019, 10:28 p.m.

Washington State head coach Mike Leach watches his team during the Cougars’ Crimson and Grey Game on  April 20  at Martin Stadium in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State head coach Mike Leach watches his team during the Cougars’ Crimson and Grey Game on April 20 at Martin Stadium in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The Cougars made another step toward building their secondary of the future Friday, receiving a commitment from three-star Hawaiian safety Alaka’i Gilman.

Gilman’s pledge to Washington State comes approximately 24 hours after California safety Hunter Escorcia committed to the Cougars, giving Mike Leach’s programs its sixth and seventh commits in the class of 2020 in a two-day span.

Both players are rated as three-star prospects, according to 247Sports, but Gilman, who plays at Honolulu powerhouse Punahou, was more highly sought after on the recruiting trail, choosing WSU despite holding offers from USC, Oregon, Nebraska, Arizona State, California and Oregon State.

Gilman, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound free safety, also has an offer from the Mountain West program in his backyard, Hawaii, as well as Colorado State, Utah State and Princeton.

The younger brother of Notre Dame safety Alohi Gilman, Alaka’i is a Polynesian Bowl All-Star selection who was tabbed the ninth-rated recruit in Hawaii. According to 247Sports, Gilman hasn’t taken his official visit to Pullman but intends to do so during the fall season.

The website also noted the Cougars have pulled in at least one recruit from the Aloha State in five of the past six recruiting classes. WSU most recently signed linebacker Peni Naulu of Hawaii’s Kapolei High during December’s early period.

The Cougars won a recruiting battle against Oregon and former WSU defensive line coach Joe Salave’a for Gilman’s commitment. During his time on the Palouse, Salave’a was largely responsible for building WSU’s pipeline to the Hawaiian Islands and American Samoa. Gilman’s pledge shows those connections haven’t dried up, even with Salave’a leaving for Oregon two seasons ago.

Second-year WSU safeties coach Kendrick Shaver was listed as the primary recruiter for Gilman and was also responsible for bringing in Escorcia, who chose the Cougars over Utah and multiple midmajors.

Punahou School produced six players who participated in the most recent Polynesian Bowl, including four Pac-12 commits, and has a long list of notable alumni that includes former U.S. President Barack Obama, ex-Notre Dame star Manti Te’o, professional golfer Michelle Wie, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and former Hawaii football coach Norm Chow.

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