Nick Rolovich stressed the importance of recruiting in the Evergreen State when he was introduced as Washington State’s new coach last month.
More urgent was the need to ink a few more defensive backs to round out the Cougars’ 2020 signing class.
Rolovich and his staff have done a little of both in the last few days.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the Cougars received a commitment from Chau Smith, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound defensive back from Chicago’s Simeon Vocational High, and doubled up on the position when three-star Kentwood prospect Alphonse Oywak announced his own commitment to WSU on Monday night.
Both were previously committed to other schools, but passed on a chance to sign letters of intent during the early signing period, meaning they’ll make it official with the Cougars on Wednesday.
Oywak committed to Pac-12 foe Arizona last July and apparently didn’t have much interest from WSU until after Rolovich replaced Mike Leach.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound cornerback reported an offer from the Cougars on Jan. 19, but still seemed content with Arizona, saying, “Everything is really the same. It looks different with me not signing early and another offer coming in. To everybody else it looks like some changes have already been made. But really, to me, there are no changes being made. I’m still committed to Arizona. I’m really taking time to make sure everything is correct and how I want it to be the next four years.”
Oywak had four interceptions and five fumble recoveries as a senior. A two-way player for Kentwood, he also hauled in 27 catches for 550 yards and six touchdowns, leading the Conquerors to the state playoffs, where they lost to Bothell in the opening round.
Smith was previously committed to Wyoming, but flipped not long after the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, Jake Dickert, accepted the same position on Rolovich’s staff at WSU, along with assistant coaches AJ Cooper and John Richardson.
A three-star prospect, Smith had offers from a variety of mid-major schools, and listed two Power Five offers from Purdue and Pittsburgh. His high school, Simeon, is the same one that produced NBA players Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker, along with former Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr.
Smith became the first player to commit to WSU under Rolovich, with Oywak joining him a day later. The Cougars had 18 players sign letter of intent in December, with only one of those, wide receiver Keyshawn Smith, reneging once Leach left for Mississippi State.