PULLMAN – For the camp of Washington State fans who’ve grown concerned about the productivity of the Air Raid offense in a post-Luke Falk era, it probably wasn’t any more reassuring to learn earlier this month the Cougars will also move forward without two wide receivers who were essential members of the cast in 2017.
How does an offense that accumulated nearly 4,500 passing yards recoup? It replenishes.
And over the last decade-plus, few coaches in college football have restocked at QB and WR as well as Mike Leach. The WSU coach and his assistants got most of their heavy lifting out of the way during the NCAA’s early signing period – which was introduced this year – and on Wednesday the Cougars unveiled a class of 18 players that should help easy any worries about the Air Raid’s future prospects.
The headliner is Cammon Cooper, a four-star quarterback from Lehi, Utah, who was one of the Cougars’ earliest targets. Cooper recently led Lehi High to a Utah 5A championship and spent his senior season rewriting the state records books – a few of which were held by Falk, who spent his formative years in Logan, Utah.
“When he first started recruiting him, he didn’t have a lot of attention but then of course as time went on, he became one of the most decorated quarterbacks in America this year,” Leach said, “and broke so many records I can’t keep track of all of them.”
At 6-4, 202 pounds, Cooper brings ideal measurables to the quarterback position and as an early enrollee, it’s possible he’ll have a better chance to push Falk’s presumed replacement, Tyler Hilinski, for starting reps.
“Besides the fact that he’s a statuesque quarterback, he’s fast,” Leach said. “Runs the 200 meters.”
If Cooper ever does assume the QB1 duties, he probably won’t be working with an empty cupboard. WSU signed four wide receivers on Wednesday – three of which stand 6-2 or taller, giving the Cougars a few options to replace Tavares Martin Jr. and Isaiah Johnson-Mack.
Of those four, scouting services are the highest on Drue Jackson, a four-star wideout from Sachse, Texas, who’s “very polished right now,” according to Leach, and “is going to be a very important part of our receiving arsenal.”
The quartet also includes Spokane’s Rodrick Fisher (East Valley), an Army All-American who blends blazing speed with good size – “we got him down at 6-2 … but he’s taller than that,” Leach said – and physicality.
“I’m not going to say that Rodrick’s the fastest (of the class),” Leach said. “Somebody on here might be faster but it would be hard to find somebody faster than Rodrick Fisher.”
Brandon Gray, a rangy 6-5 wideout from Detroit, Michigan, and Kassidy Woods, a 6-3 receiver from Addison, Texas, round out the group.
Jim Mastro’s recruiting ties to the Bay Area netted the Cougars three skill players from the prestigious West Catholic Athletic League: defensive back D’Angelo McKenzie and linebacker R.J. Stone of Junipero Serra, as well as DB/WR Patrick Nunn of Junipero Serra.
With three starting offensive linemen on the way out, the Cougars made that position group a priority during the early signing period with the additions of 6-7, 270-pound Cade Beresford, 6-5, 260-pound Jarrett Kingston and 6-4, 323-pound Syr Riley.
The Cougars got everything on their wish list, with the exception of one position: running back.
There weren’t many surprises for WSU on Wednesday – good or bad – but the Cougars didn’t get an autograph from Max Borghi, the three-star tailback from Colorado who’d been locked into a verbal commitment since late June. Stanford is reportedly making a late push for Borghi, who could stall and wait to make his decision on the Feb. 7 National Signing Day.
Borghi or no Borghi, the Cougars, who graduate Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks, are determined to add a running back.
“We’ll recruit a running back,” Leach said. “We need one running back.”
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