Mike Leach says Bellevue's Justus Rogers will stay at quarterback ... for now. Leach also explained how he evaluates his offensive linemen.
Now that the dust from National Signing Day has settled, we take a deeper dive into dissecting everything Mike Leach said in his Signing Day press conference on Wednesday.
His summary of this year’s class?
Leach said the “size, speed and overall quality” excites him and noted that this year’s recruits have “less academic issues than we’ve had in the past.”
“This is a combination of the biggest and fastest class we’ve recruited since we’ve been here,” Leach said.
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Here’s everything else we learned:
1 – Bellevue’s Justus Rogers will stay at quarterback for now
After quarterback Quentin Davis reneged on his commitment to WSU two weeks before Signing Day, the Cougs stopped trying to find a quarterback to add to this class.
“I think we just took at our priorities,” Leach said. “We just felt that we had other needs elsewhere. We would have (taken a quarterback) if a good one popped up, but there were other needs.”
Having Rogers in the fold made it easier to forego a quarterback.
The Bellevue alum threw for 1,144 yards with 19 touchdowns and only one interception in his senior season, and led the Wolverines to two-straight state championship games.
Rogers was recruited as an athlete and he enrolled at WSU in January. Leach confirmed Wednesday that Rogers will start off at quarterback for the Cougs in spring ball.
“We’re going to start him at quarterback, but the big priority is getting him on the field as fast as we can. … We would love to see what he can do,” Leach said. “He’s a great athlete. Guys like Justus make (where he’ll play) a complicated question because he has the ability to do a variety of things.
“He’s got the skills to play any of the four defensive back spots to a degree, and depending on how he grows, (to play) linebacker, receiver or quarterback.”
The Cougs have three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster at the moment (Luke Falk, Peyton Bender and Tyler Hilinski), and Leach said he likes to have four scholarship guys and two walk ons in his quarterbacks room at all times.
Bethel High’s Bryce Missey will also join the Cougars this fall as a preferred walk-on.
And for what it’s worth, the Cougs already have interest from a highly-rated 2017 quarterback prospect.
Calabasas (Calif.) High quarterback Tristan Gebbia, who’s rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, recently announced on Twitter that WSU is one of five finalists on his shortlist of schools.
The other four?
Washington, West Virginia, Nebraska and Ole Miss.
2 – A window into how Leach sorts through his offensive linemen
Leach was asked how he determines whether an incoming offensive lineman will start out at guard or tackle, and also how he sifts through the available talent to find the best offensive linemen to start. Here’s how he thinks the newest Cougs on the offensive line project:
- Nilsson Gaisoa: tackle
- Christian Haangana: tackle
- Keenen King: Either guard or tackle
- Frederick Mauigoa: tackle
- Liam Ryan: guard
- Joshua Watson: tackle
To find the best five linemen to slot into a starting lineup, “what we do is sort out who are our five best offensive linemen, and once we sort out who the five best are, from there we move them around position-wise,” Leach said. “That’s where we start.”
Then, Leach and presumably Clay McGuire, the offensive line coach, earmark the next three best linemen and peg them as the top reserves. One of the three will back up the center, one will back up on the right side, and the other on the left. Leach said he’s more inclined to allocate backups to playing both positions on one side of the line, as opposed to the more common NFL practice of having a swing tackle and swing guard who can play both tackle or guard positions on either side of the line.
3 – Leach’s strategy when it comes to recruiting in-state players
WSU got four scholarship players with Washington roots this year – quadruple the number it signed last year. They also managed to keep three Washington kids as preferred walk-ons.
This is sort of by design.
Leach said retaining in-state talent is “always a priority” and that “the first place we start is Washington” but added, “the first priority is to get the best players you can regardless of where they come from. “In the end, we try to select the best player regardless of where they come from.”
4 — (BONUS FEATURE) Leach doesn’t know what dabbing is. Click link. Watch video. That is all.