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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cougars add speed, size to team

PULLMAN – On Wednesday, 25 high school or junior college athletes signed contracts to continue their football careers at Washington State. The whole process was over by 10:24 a.m.

If that sounds boring to you, well, it was. National Signing Day, the yearly event in which recruited football players sign their letters of intent, has become bigger than most game days in recent years. The cliché du jour among fans who frequent recruiting sites all year is that the day is “just like Christmas,” which is probably equal parts a commentary on the rise of prospect-watching as a secondary sport and the decline of holidays in America.

But those who took work off expecting a day full of surprising plot twists, cold feet at the fax machine or last-second subterfuge might as well have sneaked back to the office after lunch.

The day’s highlight was undoubtedly coach Mike Leach asking a room full of reporters to explain what “dabbing” is, a process that required the majority of the room, and an executive communications staffer armed with a smartphone.

Leach came to the conclusion that Cam Newton’s favorite end zone dance is “like sneezing,” which might as well be the dictionary definition.

If there were anything distinguished about Wednesday’s class signing, it’s that the Cougars may have set the record for the smoothest.

“The most notable thing about this class is it went almost entirely as expected,” Leach said. “That’d be the first time in history that’s ever happened, at least for me.”

Later he told a reporter fishing for drama, “I’m surprised to tell you that nothing surprised me.”

When evaluating the makeup of the class, Leach spoke most often about the size of the offensive linemen and the speed of the defensive players.

The Cougars signed five offensive linemen, ranging in size from 6-foot-5, 265-pound minnow Joshua Watson from Cascade HS in Everett, to 6-foot-5, 365-pound Christian Haangana, who, like the Spartans’ arrows, has the imposing ability to block out the sun.

The best illustration of the team’s defensive speed is likely rush linebacker Mason Vinyard, who stands 6-5 and can run the 100-meter dash in 10.9 seconds.

The farthest-traveling continental recruit is, for the third consecutive year, a wide receiver from Florida.

Like Keith Harrington (who has since moved to running back) and Tavares Martin before him, Isaiah Johnson left the Sunshine State to catch passes in the Air Raid.

“I guess they broke out a ruler and said what’s the furthest point you can go,” Leach said.

Johnson comes from the same school as Martin – Dwyer High in Belle Glade – and was in all likelihood at least somewhat influenced by his former and present teammate, who started at kick returner and saw time at wide receiver as a true freshman last season.

No recruit will travel farther than Frederick Mauigoa, the top-rated football player in American Samoa, who chose the Cougars over Oregon State.

The Cougars have recruited the islands well thanks to defensive line coach Joe Salave’a (Mauigoa is expected to play on the offensive line) and American Samoa natives such as Logan Tago and Shalom Luani are expected to be key players for the Cougars next season.

And finally, Leach clarified that status of quarterback/athlete Justus Rogers, who enrolled early.

“We’d love to see what he can do (at quarterback) and that’s where we’ll start him out,” Leach said.

“He’s a great athlete. The biggest thing, guys like Justus always make it a complicated question because they have the ability to do a variety of things.”

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