WSU Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch went out looking for some speedsters on defense this year. The class the WSU coaching staff assembled consists of 13 defensive players, including five linebackers, five defensive backs and three defensive ends
WSU Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch went out looking for some speedsters on defense this year. The class the WSU coaching staff assembled consists of 13 defensive players, including five linebackers, five defensive backs and three defensive ends.
The only thing lacking defensively in this recruiting class, WSU coach Mike Leach concedes (though, he considers this a “nit-picky” issue) was perhaps a bona fide defensive tackle.
“The bigger priority was defensive ends,” Leach said. “There’s perhaps a slight imbalance on our roster in that there’s not a D-tackle in this class, though, we have plenty of guys who, as they get older, will evolve to that position.”
LYRIC BARTLEY, DE
6-3, 245, Taylorsville HS, Taylorsville, Utah
Named a second team All-State selection by the Salt Lake Tribune, and the Region III Most Outstanding Lineman. … totaled 61 tackles with 18 for loss. … topped state with 13.5 sacks and one forced fumble. … also rushed 16 times for 86 yards and five touchdowns. …ranked the 93rd defensive end prospect nationally by ESPN.com, and the 23rd defensive end prospect in the West by Scout.com.
Former WSU QB Jason Gesser: “He’s so technical with his hands already coming out of high school. You don’t see that. He has great hands off the ball. The other thing with him is his lateral speed. He moves side to side well and plays snaps to the whistle.”
DANNY BENDER, DE
6-4, 240, Valhalla HS, El Cajon, Calif.
Garnered All-CIF San Diego Section First Team honors his senior year. … recorded 74 tackles with nine sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception returned for a touchdown…also broke up eight passes…rated three-star prospect by ESPN.com and Scout.com.
WSU Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch: “You’re trying to find guys who have a good first step and some length. Danny possesses all those things. He can rush the passer and has good athleticism.”
D’JIMON JONES, DB
5-11, 175, Federal Way HS, Federal Way, Wash.
Played quarterback in high school but missed most of senior season with a leg injury. … Junior year, he rushed for 392 yards and four touchdowns, completed 31-of-61 passes for 561 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions…also served as sixth man for 4A State basketball championship team…finished second at state in the high jump after jumping 21-10.5…also high jumped 6-9…rated three-star quarterback prospect by ESPN.com and three-star cornerback by Rivals.com.
Former WSU QB Alex Brink: “We’re looking at him as a defensive back. His ability to diagnose what the offense is doing is all going to come into play as a corner or a safety. He has a chance to come in here and develop.”
GARRETT MCBROOM, DE
6-3, 268, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College/Stillwater (Okla.) High School
Enrolled at WSU in January and will join Cougs for spring drills. … earned All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference second-team honors as a sophomore in 2015. … finished with 66 tackles with 19 tackles-for-loss including 10 sacks. … During senior year of high school, was named an All-District 6A first teamer after tallying 42 tackles, including two for loss and one interception.
DEREK MOORE, RUSH LB
6-2, 211, Crenshaw HS, Los Angeles, Calif.
As a senior, was named All-Los Angeles City Section I Defensive Player of the Year. … rated a three-star recruit by Scout.com. … ranked 10th outside linebacker in California by Scout.com. …Held offers from Utah, UNLV and Nevada.
WSU outside linebackers coach Roy Manning: “He’s a really good athlete. We’re really excited about Derek. He’s a big, long kid and he’s gonna get bigger. The best thing he does is he’s super athletic. He holds his own in there when you watch his film, against a lot of bigger guys.”
CHIMA ONYEUKWU, LB
6-3, 215, Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calf.
Earned Pacific-7 league First-Team honors his sophomore year at Contra Costa College. … Tallied 57 tackles, with 11 for loss and seven sacks. … also forced one fumble and blocked a kick. … ranked No. 88 junior college prospect nationally by Rivals.com and No. 6 outside linebacker prospect by 247Sports.com.
WSU running backs coach Jim Mastro: “He popped with how fast he can run. He’s a chiseled up guy who loves football. He brings speed at that position that we didn’t have. His coach Alonzo Carter said, ‘He’s our best pass rusher and our best cover linebacker.’ He’s like a nickel/cover guy with a linebacker’s mentality.”
MARCUS STRONG, DB
5-11, 170, Carter HS, Rialto, Calif.
Electric athlete who will be an asset on special teams. … Named to All-Citrus Belt League First Team and San Bernardino Sun All-Area Second Team. … played in 10 games as a senior, recording 36 tackles, one pick and nine pass break ups. … also scored nine touchdowns: three rushing, three receiving, two on kickoff return, one on punt return. … Ranked the 32nd best safety in the West by Scout.com
WSU linebackers coach Ken Wilson: “Marcus’ brother is Victor Butler, who’s with the New York Giants, and his other brother, Justin, plays for Oregon State. (Marcus) is a fast guy, he’s a track guy who’s also played baseball. He can return kicks and play safety or corner.”
SULIASI TAMAIVENA, LB
6-2, 234, Mt. San Antonio College/ Juanita HS, Kirkland, Wash.
Tamaivena was unrecruited out of high school and played rugby for two years before going to Mt. San Antonio College. … As a sophomore, was named to the California Community College All-America First Time, and was named SCFA National Division Central Conference Co-Defensive Player of the year. … registered 81 tackles, including 20 for loss, with nine sacks. … had one forced fumble, seven pass breakups. … ranked No. 58 junior college prospect nationally by Scout.com
WSU linebackers coach Ken Wilson: “We had a good relationship. He’s a twin, I’m a twin, so we kinda hit it off. … We tried to keep him under wraps. A lot of guys were sniffing around and we wanted to keep him and surprise everyone today. He was player of the year down there, so we were sitting and hoping no one would jump in on him.”
ROBERT TAYLOR, DB
5-11, 180, City College of San Francisco/UC Davis/ Deer Valley HS, San Leandro, Calif.
Attended UC Davis as a freshman in 2014, appeared in eight games, made 12 tackles and three pass breakups. … went to City College of San Francisco, as a sophomore finished with 47 tackles, 1.5 for loss, five interceptions, six pass breakups. … earned All-Northern California Bay 6 League honors.
WSU RB coach Jim Mastro: “The kid bet on himself. Out of high school he was 157 pounds, he was offered only by UC Davis, he goes there and realizes he could play at a higher level, walks away from his scholarship, went and played at City College and won a national championship. Halfway through the season, he had us and four others all over him. He’s a safety who can run and return kicks and punts.”
SKYLER THOMAS, DB
5-11, 175, Citrus Hill HS, Perris, Calif.
Helped Citrus Hill to a CIF State Division 2A championship and a 14-2 record as a senior. … named All-CIF Southern Section Inland Division and All- Mountain Pass League. … Totalled 65 tackles, including eight for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and 11 pass breakups his senior year. … Had a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and an interception in the Inland Empire All-Star Football Classic for Riverside County. … Rated the No. 18 safety in California by Scout.com
WSU LB coach Ken Wilson: “He can play nickel or safety, or be a punt returner or kick returner. He was the fastest guy we timed at all our camps down there last summer. Everybody liked him. We ran him around and did some drills. He and Marcus Strong want to be roommates when they get here and they’ve already started a competition to see who will be a better kick returner. That’s exciting for us because we haven’t had a kick returned for a touchdown in a while.”
JALEN THOMPSON, DB
6-0, 170, Downey HS, Downey, Calif.
Enrolled in January and will join WSU for spring ball. … Played his first two years of high school football at La Serna High. … As a senior at Downey, earned All-CIF Southern Section, All-San Gabriel Valley League honors after finishing with five interceptions and averaging 20.2 yards per catch. … ranked the No. 56 cornerback in the country, and No. 88 overall prospect in California by ESPN.com.
WSU outside linebackers coach Roy Manning: “Jalen is just an absolute joy. His work ethic is untouchable. … The kid’s approach to football is special. … I’m glad we got a chance to get him here early and baptize him.”
MASON VINYARD, RUSH LB
6-5, 215, Helix HS, La Mesa, Calif.
Also played tight end at Helix. … As a senior, named first-team All-East County, helped team to San Diego Section title. … finished with 27 tackles, 5.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries, one forced fumble. … rated the No. 25 tight end prospect nationally by ESPN.com and the fourth-best tight end in California by Scout.com.
Former WSU QB Jason Gesser: “Right away wyou’re going to talk about his frame. He’s very long, and he’s going to play that rush linebacker spot. He’s a 10.9 100M guy, he runs a 4.6 40. From talking to (Alex) Grinch, he likes this guy because he has a ton of upside. His senior year was the only year that he played defense.”
JAHAD WOODS, LB
5-11, 215, Helix HS, La Mesa, Calif.
Was teammates with Mason Vinyard at Helix. … As a senior, named an All-CIF San Diego Section, All-East County and All-Grossmont Hills first teamer. … had 58 tackles 5.5 sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and scored three defensive touchdowns. … helped Helix to 11-2 record. … rated the No. 61 inside linebacker nationally and No. 10 inside linebacker in California by Scout.com.
Former WSU QB Jason Gesser: “He’s very explosive. He jumps off the film. He’s one of the faster guys out there – speed, speed and more speed.”