Short bios of WSU's newest signees on National Signing Day
Happy National Signing Day everyone!
Washington State signed 21 prospects on National Signing Day to go along with the five who had already signed in December and enrolled on campus. Here’s a closer look at the newest Cougars.
Jamire Calvin — WR — 5’10, 160 pounds (Cathedral HS, Pasadena, Calif.)
One of the most coveted recruits on the West Coast, Calvin kept the Cougars guessing until the end, when he flipped his commitment from Nebraska on National Signing Day. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio and was named to the All-USA California Football Team by USA Today. Was Co-MVP of the Angelus League as a senior after catching 86 passes for 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns. Ranked the No. 31 wide receiver in the country and No. 28 overall prospect in California by Rivals.com. High school teammates with current Cougar wideout Renard Bell
WSU coach Mike Leach: “He’s very shifty, has great change of direction, good speed. A real playmaker with a ball. … We had a good dialogue with him from the beginning, he had a lot of attention and could have gone to 50 places, we’re fortunate he came here.”
Cole Dubots – LB – 6’1, 185 pounds (Vista Murrieta HS, Murrieta, Calif.)
Led Vista Murrieta to a 32-8 combined record in three seasons. Played mostly running back and had 77 carries for 635 yards and three touchdowns during his senior season despite suffering a shoulder injury. Also a three-year letter winner in track and field who ran the 100m in 10.58 in the CIF state track finals as a junior. Set a personal best of 10.54 in the 100m his junior year.
Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch: “He’s legitimately fast. He’s track fast. That speed – we’ve gotta find the best spot for him, between the nickel and will linebacker spots – those are the guys who can play in space. He had a shoulder (injury) as a senior, so he’ll miss track this year but would have had the chance to win the state 100-meter title in California, which says something.”
LB coach Ken Wilson: “He can run a 10.54 100m. His (40 yard dash is) probably in the high 4.2s, low 4.3s. He’s a really tough kid, just the way he ran, and ran physically and through guys. His dad was a college football player, a big guy. You put that kind of speed on defense, there’s nobody he can’t run down. We’re excited to see what he can do.”
Fa’avae Fa’avae – OLB – 6’1, 210 pounds (Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif.)
Missed his senior season due to a torn ACL, but helped Mater Dei to a 10-3 record and No. 17 national ranking his junior year, finishing with 59 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, 20 quarterback hurries, three pass deflections, and two forced fumbles that includes a strip-six, and a pick-six in 2015.
Grinch: “He’s in the mold of Frankie Luvu at inside backer, I think he’s a Mike linebacker for us. He played a little bit rushing the passer and has the personality to run a defense. I think he sees himself as that, which is neat to be around guys like that. He committed to us and stayed true throughout the process. Had an injury his senior year, but he’s healthy now.”
Sean Harper – CB – 6’1, 180 pounds (Holmes Comm. College, Miss.)
Signed with WSU out of high school in 2015 but was a non-qualifier academically. Played two seasons at Holmes (Miss.) Community College and helped his team to an All-Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College programs championship in 2015. Had 25 tackles and two interceptions, including a pick-six, and also contributed four pass breakups.
Grinch: “Sean was an athletic kid I was recruiting in Hart County, Georgia when I was at Missouri. We signed him in that initial class, three classes ago. Academically he was just a touch shy but sometimes it works out in the back end. I kept in touch with him and he had a shoulder injury late in the season. We brought him back. He played mostly corner in junior college but can play nickel, safety and corner. He has some length to him and some athleticism also.”
Gesser: “Very versatile, long, played corner on the outside. He was Grinch’s first guy when he first got here, he went to JC and came back, so he’s a loyal kid. To stay loyal to WSU is huge. Can he play that nickel spot? Or is he gonna be back in that safety spot. It’s one of those holes we have to fill.”
Travell Harris – WR – 5’8, 170 pounds (Jesuit HS, Tampa, Fla.)
Named a 5A All-State second-team in Tampa, Fla. after his senior season at Jesuit High School. Caught 22 passes for 592 yards and nine touchdowns while rushing for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Also played on defense, recording 41 tackles and three interceptions.
Receivers coach Dave Nichol: “I went to Dallas Jesuit HS and he went to Tampa Jesuit, so we talked about that. Good dude. We feel like he can come in on the inside and athletically and physically he can compete right now. All the other stuff will work itself out.”
Preston Hendry – DE – 6’5, 235 pounds (Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, Calif.)
From Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif, where he played three seasons at Tesoro High, starting out as a receiver before moving to defensive end. At Orange Coast College, Hendry finished his sophomore season with 30 tackles, 6 tackles-for-loss and 3 sacks and was a second team all-conference selection.
Leach: “He’s a big, tall defensive end who’s a great pass rusher.”
George Hicks – CB – 6’0, 180 pounds (Cajon HS, San Bernardino, Calif.)
Hicks finished his senior season as a first-team All-Citrus Belt League selection after making 26 tackles with one interception and 10 pass breakups, he also played receiver, catching 17 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns. He’s rated a three-star prospect by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com
Leach: “Good, classic cornerback who makes a lot of plays, shows toughness.”
Dallas Hobbs – DE – 6’6, 240 pounds (Deerfield Academy, Mass.)
Originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Hobbs played one season of prep school ball at Deerfield Academy in Mass.
Grinch: “Hobbs is a prep school kid, he’s 6-5, 240 and will probably quickly be a 270-pound guy. He went to Deerfield Academy, it’s a post grad year, fifth year of high school, so it doesn’t count against your eligibility. It’s not based on grades, just an extra year developmentally. So he’s already been away at school, at boarding school. … Dallas Hobbs was the first one in with the 4 a.m. text.”
Alec Kuzmack – OT – 6’5, 295 pounds (Eagle HS, Eagle, Idaho)
Kuzmack is rated the top prospect in Idaho by ESPN.com. He finished his senior year at Eagle HS as a 5A All-State First Team and All-Southern Idaho Conference first-team selection. Also lettered in track, placing third in the shotput (56-1.75) and fourth in the discus (164-8) during his junior year at the 5A State Track and Field Meet. Ranked the No. 99 offensive tackle in the country and No. 15 in the West by Scout.com.
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Leach: “Kind of a ‘flat stomach’ offensive lineman, really well built.”
Damion Lee – DB – 6’1, 180 pounds (Palm Springs HS, Calif.)
Was an All-Desert Sun second-team selection after recording 26 tackles, two interceptions and four pass breakups his senior year. Also played receiver and caught 17 passes including seven touchdowns. Helped Palm Springs HS to a CIF title during his sophomore year. Lee is rated a three-star prospect by ESPN.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com.
Leach: “One of the faster guys on the list. He’s a truly fast guy who’s got a great frame to put on more weight.”
Isaiah Love – CB – 6’0, 170 pounds (West Covina HS, Calif.)
Love enrolled at WSU in January and will join the Cougars for spring football. He missed the 2015 senior season with an injury, but as a junior, he had 28 tackles and one pick, and was also a threat on offense, rushing for 341 yards and nine touchdowns and catching 21 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns. Rated a three-star prospect by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.
Leach: “He’s fast, and we wanted those DBs to be in a position where they fight it out for their spot, I think we’ve got a good group to do that.”
Abe Lucas – OT – 6’8, 260 pounds (Archbishop Murphy HS, Everett)
The Cougars held off a late challenge from Cal to sign Lucas, who won a state championship with Archbishop Murphy last season. Lucas played both ways in high school, finishing his senior season with 31 tackles, including 15 sacks. He’s rated the No. 52 offensive tackle nationally, and the eighth-best in Washington by ESPN.com.
WSU’s Northwest recruiter Eric Mele: “He’s a big fella, he’s got the biggest hands we measured in. He won a state championship (at Archbishop Murphy) and he’s got a huge ceiling. He’s gonna fill out in the same Andre Dillard mold. He’s got a bright future.”
Davontavean “Tay” Martin – WR – 6’4, 180 pounds (Ellender Memorial HS, Houma, La.)
WSU quarterbacking great Alex Brink likens Martin to former Cougars receiver Dom Williams in terms of his length and athletic ability. Named 4A All-State first-team after his senior year by the Louisiana Coaches Association. Martin caught 45 passes for 751 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 493 yards and five touchdowns. Also made 36 tackles and two interceptions on defense. Rated No. 32 prospect in Louisiana by ESPN.com.
Leach: “Very explosive as far as vertical jump speed and he’s gonna get even bigger than he is now. He’s a very explosive player.”
Christian Mejia – DE – 6’4, 220 pounds (Kailua HS, Hawaii)
Dual-sport athlete who played football and basketball at Kailua High. Mejia was a two-time first-team All-State selection and was named to USA Today’s All-USA Hawaii First Team on defense while earning Cover2 Iron Man of the Year honors after playing defensive end and tight end. High school teammates with current Cougar offensive lineman Nilsson Gaisoa…ranked the No. 14 prospect in Hawaii by 247Sports.com and No. 24 defensive end in the West by Scout.com.
Former WSU QB Jason Gesser: “We have him projected as a DE, but he played a lot of LB in high school. He’s a tall rush end, like Nnamdi Oguayo and Derek Moore. He has the speed to get going, but the athletic ability to get after the quarterback. … the best way to explain it is like a cobra when it strikes, they explode toward the ball carrier and make sure he’s going down.”
Jonathan Nathaniel – OT – 6’5, 250 pounds (Basha HS, Chandler, Ariz.)
Made the 6A All-Arizona First Team as a senior, and was selected to play in the Blue-Grey High School All-American Game. Also earned Offensive Line MVP honors at the Oakland Opening Regional in 2016. Ranked the No. 67 offensive tackle in the country and second-best tackle in Arizona by Scout.com, was also named to the West 150 by Scout.com.
Leach: “We did specifically try to get taller offensive linemen and successfully do have some taller guys like him.”
Connor Neville – QB – 6’2, 215 pounds (Wilsonville HS, Wilsonville, Ore.)
Amassed 2,756 yards with 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 10 games his senior year, completing 59.5 percent of his passes, and averaging 275.6 passing yards per game. Neville also rushed for seven touchdowns. He’s rated a four-star prospect by ESPN.com and Scout.com, and named to the ESPN300 and is rated the the ninth-best dual-threat quarterback in the country by ESPN.com.
WSU’s Northwest recruiter Eric Mele: “He’s got a big time live arm. That’s the biggest thing that jumps out on film. He’s really got the arm talent, he’s pretty fast, and he gets rid of it. I knew he could throw the ball.”
Former WSU QB Alex Brink (who coached Neville on his 7-on-7 team): “I think what jumps out right away is arm talent. Connor has a lot of physical abilities, he played the position in high school and found success there. He’s gonna come from the transition of 5A level in Oregon to the Pac-12 level, so (the question is) how will he handle what goes with being a Division I quarterback. Physically he’s incredibly gifted. I’m excited to see him get out here and be around a guy like Luke Falk.”
Caleb Perry – RB – 5’9, 175 pounds (Kings School, Shoreline)
Compact speedster who excelled at both football and track and field, and won a 1A state title in the 100m last year. Perry’s personal best in the 100m is 10.76, and his speed shows on the football field, where he was named Cascade Conference Co-Offensive MVP in 2016, rushing for 1,220 yards on 106 carries and 19 touchdowns. Perry is a 2017 Seattle Times White Chip prospect.
Mele: “He’s the speedster from King’s High School. He’s a track guy who’s gonna probably win the state 100-meter title again — he’s shooting for 10.5, that’s his goal.
Gesser: I really like this kid from watching him on film. It’s long run after long run. He’s a very linear runner who’s gonna take one cut steps and is going vertical. He’s gonna hit those holes and be gone. No one is gonna catch him. To have that kind of bullet in the chamber, this kid fits in very, very well with what we do. He can take a screen pass on 20-yard line and take it to the house. He’s a little undersized 5-9, but he’s a solid 180 pounds.”
Willie Rodgers III – DE – 6’5, 230 pounds (Valor Christian HS, Highlands Ranch, Colo.)
Rodgers started his high school career at Arthur Hill High in Saginaw, Mich, but transferred to Valor Christian in Colorado for his senior season because he wanted to test himself against better competition. The nephew of former NBA star Jason Richardson, Rodgers played both basketball and football in high school. He helped Valor Christian to a 11-3 record and 5A State Title as a senior and was named an All-State second-team selection after making 41 tackles with 15.5 for loss including 11 sacks and one pass break up.
Grinch: “We’d be naïve to suggest that he’d be coming out here if not for coach (Roy) Manning. It’s good to have connections. He’s from Michigan, did his senior year of high school in Colorado with family. He was really a basketball kid for the bulk of his high school career, and came on late. He has size potential and athleticism and we’re certainly excited about him.
Kelle Sanders – DE – 6’5, 230 pounds (River Ridge HS, Lacey)
Sanders was the final WSU recruit to sign his letter of intent on Signing Day, inking his paperwork in a signing ceremony at his high school at 2:30 p.m. Sanders played quarterback in high school, completing 54 percent of his passes for 1,298 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. But he also amassed 146 rushing yards and had 21 total tackles on defense, including four for loss. He was a 2017 Seattle Times Red Chip prospect.
Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman: He’s gonna be a really good college players because he’s been playing out of his position at River Ridge, they have him at quarterback. And he’s probably gonna grow bigger. He has his best football ahead of him.
Dominick Silvels – LB – 6’3, 190 pounds (Patrick Henry High, San Diego, Calif.)
Played receiver in high school but will switch to defense at WSU, where the Cougars hope to use him at linebacker. As a senior at Patrick Henry High, recorded 1,230 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns, made 22 tackles, six pass breakups and blocked one field goal in eight games of action. High school teammates with current Cougar wideout Dezmon Patmon. Rated a two-star prospect as a wide receiver by Rivals.com and Scout.com.
Grinch: “He’s been a RB, WR and DB, and he has a lot of highlights as a kick returner, I think he’ll be one of those linebacker types for us as this thing moves along.”
Josh Talbott – S – 6’0, 175 pounds (Long Beach Polytechnic HS, Long Beach, Calif.)
One of the most sought after prospects in WSU’s 2017 recruiting class. Talbott was rated the fourth-best safety in California by Scout.com, ranked the No. 29 safety nationally by ESPN.com. Amassed 49 tackles, two interceptions and six pass breakups as a senior and was named to the All-State third team.
Grinch: “He’s a great kid, another guy who has real good speed. And it’s verified times, not just your film evaluations. He’s documented fast. He does track for them and played a little bit of the nickel spot – I think he’s a guy who could possibly help us in that situation and also at safety. With the DBs, we try to get multidimensional players who can help us corner, safety nickel. … Coach (Roy) Manning has that Los Angeles area for us, and he did a great job of getting his claws into Josh early on. He’s as low maintenance a recruit as you can imagine. Once he committed to us didn’t take any other trips, he was locked in. Similar to Jalen Thompson – once he said where he was going, he couldn’t get here fast enough.”
LB Coach Roy Manning: “I think Josh Talbott is the best safety in the Los Angeles area, and one of the top two for sure. He has other offers and things of that nature, but I think people have missed the ball on this kid, he’s lights out. He’ll come up and hit you, he’s fast and explosive. I’m very excited about him. He’s a very focused kid, really had a plan of what he wanted to do. Knew he wanted to go somewhere where he could try to get some early playing time, nad obviously we’re not opposed to playing young guys.”
Willie Taylor – OLB – 6’3, 210 pounds (Bleckley County HS, Cochran, Ga.)
Two sport star who also had a Division I scholarship offer in basketball. As a senior, was named AA All-State honorable mention and 3-AA All-Region First Team as a defensive back. He’s rated a two-star prospect by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com.
Grinch: “He’s kinda also got that basketball frame. He played mostly safety but also wide receiver and wildcat quarterback in high school, and we think he’ll be a good outside backer. The highlights you don’t see are of him dunking a basketball.”
Manning: “What a sleeper man. This kid is huge. He’s definitely 6-4, 215 pounds right now. Once these kids get up here and start eating and they will put on weight. You turn on some of his basketball film, man, he can jump out the gym. He’s a really natural athlete, a small town guy in the middle of Georgia. I know coach Grinch had actually signed a player from that high school with that head coach before and (Grinch) reached out to him, he sent Grinch Willie’s film and we were like, “Man.” It’s just surprising he didn’t have a lot more going. There’s no exact science to this. He’s a great kid, he comes from a great family, kudos to him to making the leap of faith to come out west to continue his football career.”
Robert Valencia* — OT – 6’5, 300 pounds (City College of San Francisco)
One of WSU’s four-star signees, Valencia played two seasons at City College of San Francisco for coach Jimmy Collins and was named to the Northern California National Division All-Bay 6 League First Team after his sophomore season. He’s teammates with current Cougars Anthony Gordon and Robert Taylor and was ranked the No. 11 junior college tackle in the country by ESPN.com. He will have two years to play two seasons. Enrolled in January, 2017 and will participate in spring practice.
Gesser: “Very very good feet, great hands, and he’s athletic. Looks like your prototypical left tackle. The big question for him is can he bump over and fill in this right guard spot? This guy and his teammate (Easop Wintson) are the two guys who will make the biggest impact.”
Zaire Webb – CB – 5-10, 165 pounds (Fletcher HS, Neptune Beach, Fla.)
Enrolled at WSU in January and will participate in spring ball. Webb first got onto WSU’s radar when Ken Wilson noticed him while recruiting in California. Webb eventually transferred to Fletcher High in Jacksonville, Fla. for his final two seasons of high school ball and is rated a three-star prospect by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com and ranked the No. 25 cornerback in Florida
Gesser: “Watching him on film, I like him. He’s little, 5-10, 165. But fast, quick and physical. He’s not afraid to go in and put it on anybody and make hits. He has a presence to him. He reminds me of Jason David — same height same size, great feet, great speed would make plays. Watching this guy, he would do it over and over again.”
Anthony White Jr. – WR — 6’0, 165 pounds (Miami Central HS, Miami, Fla.)
White graduated high school early and enrolled at WSU in January. He finished at Miami Central High School in Miami, Fla, but also played at Hialeah American High School as a junior. He’s rated a four-star prospect by ESPN.com and Rivals.com and is ranked the No. 6 athlete in Florida by Scout.com.
Leach: “He’s here on campus now, he’s 6-1 but maybe taller than that. He’s quick, runs extremely well and we’ve got the luxury of having him here on campus already.”
Easop Winston – WR – 5-11, 170 pounds (City College of San Francisco)
An under-the-radar prospect who has the potential to make an immediate impact in a depleted WSU receiving corps. He played alongside Valencia at City College of San Franciso, and as a sophomore was named to the Northern California National Division All-Bay 6 League First Team after leading team with 71 receptions for 1,171 yards and 12 touchdowns. Winston led all CCAA receivers in receiving yards and was second in touchdown catches while averaging a CCAA-best 106.5 yards-per-game and 16.2 yards-per-catch. Will have three years to play two seasons. He enrolled at WSU in January and will participate in spring drills.
Nichol: “He’s gonna start off with me on the outside. He’s a really good kid – we’ve got some kids from there who can back up his character. Midnight Maneuvers for a new guy are not alwayas easy, and he pushes through and works. He’s got huge hands, which is always good. And he’s got really good ball skills. His catching radius is very large for a guy who’s not a huge dude. The quarterbacks like him, which is always good. We want him to come in and compete right now.”
Gesser: “Every time you watch him catch the ball – and he had some one handed catches – it never got to his body. Even on a fade ball, he went up and caught ball with his hands. He’s good at going up and catching by extending his hands. He’s a very savvy player. He may not be the guy who runs a 10.5 100m, but with his versatility, we may see a lot of production out of him this year.”