PULLMAN – The first one came in at 7:25 p.m. on Sunday and the last one at 7:16 p.m. on Monday. Washington State did not just add a few defensive linemen to its 2019 recruiting class during a 24-hour span – the Cougars added an entire defensive line.
A Rush linebacker, too.
What WSU accomplished on the recruiting trail between Sunday night and Monday night could be monumental for Mike Leach’s program years down the road. For now, it means the Cougars and defensive line coach Jeff Phelps have stocked up on bodies at a vital position group for their 2019 recruiting class.
As of Sunday, WSU hadn’t received a single commitment from a defensive linemen. But that number grew from zero to three by Monday night, as the Cougars got verbal pledges from defensive end Tyler Garay-Harris – as previously reported – and defensive tackles Nassir Sims and Dejon Benton. Cosmas Kwete, an outside linebacker who’ll likely play at the “Rush” position for WSU, also gave a verbal commitment.
Garay-Harris, a three-star prospect from Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High, tweeted his announcement at 7:25 Sunday night. Monday’s haul began with Kwete, an unranked recruit who plays at Phoenix Central in Arizona. Kwete posted on Twitter he’d be committing to the Cougars at 2:58 p.m.
Simms, another prospect from Arizona, who’s earned a three-star 247Sports rating while playing at Goodyear’s Desert Edge High, followed up with a tweet at 5:12 p.m. on Monday announcing his intentions.
Finally, a 24-hour period that began with a commitment from a defensive lineman from the Bay Area ended with another one. Benton, a three-star tackle from Pittsburg High School, typed out and delivered his tweet at 7:16 p.m.
The Cougars, currently ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings, pulled off this recruiting yield approximately one day after winning their fifth consecutive Pac-12 game – a 19-13 victory over California at Martin Stadium.
It isn’t unlikely that each of the four commits, or a couple of them, watched the Cougars manufacture a fierce pass rush against Cal quarterbacks Chase Garbers and Brandon McIlwain, who were sacked five times by WSU defenders. The Cougars’ defensive front has statistically been the best in the Pac-12 this season, with a conference-leading 27 sacks.
Monday night, Phelps tweeted a photo from an ice cream parlor with wife Tyla, son Carsen and daughter Harlyn. His caption read: “Yes that just happened!!! In celebration of a bright future for the DL I enjoy ice cream! When you have an epic 24 hours the family gets in on the celebration! God is good. #Thankful.”
Kwete is a 6-3, 250-pound outside linebacker who’ll be coming to Pullman with a fascinating story. He didn’t start playing football until his freshman season at Phoenix Central and came to the United States after spending time at a refugee camp in Zimbabwe with brother Eloi, another FBS prospect who committed to Massachusetts hours before Cosmas committed to WSU.
Cosmas, who posted 54 tackles, eight sacks and three forced fumbles as a senior, had offers from Kansas, Idaho, a number of Mountain West Schools and Massachusetts, which recruited both Kwete brothers.
“It’s going to be tough not playing with him, but we’ll keep up with each other and hope the other does well,” Cosmas told azcentral.com.
Simms, a 6-3, 280-pound D-tackle, chose WSU despite multiple offers from other Pac-12 schools, including Oregon State, Arizona and Colorado. His other Power Five offer came from Syracuse. Simms visited Pullman during the Cougars’ bye week and narrowed his list down to WSU, Wyoming, San Diego State, OSU and Arizona on Nov. 3.
According to MaxPreps, Sims had 70 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss and five sacks in 11 games for Desert Edge, which finished the year with an 8-3 record.
WSU actually took two recruits out of Arizona’s hands Monday. Benton had the Wildcats in his final four along with the Cougars, San Jose State and Fresno State. The 6-2, 260-pound defensive tackle was also offered by Colorado State, Hawaii and UNLV.
Benton plays on both the offensive and defensive line for a 7-3 Pittsburg team that has an important North Coast Section Championships playoff game coming up this Friday against Northern California powerhouse De La Salle.
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