The Cougars signed 20 recruits during the early signing period in December, but finished up the 2018 recruiting cycle with some more additions on Wednesday
Washington State entered Wednesday’s National Letter of Intent Signing Day with 20 recruits already signed from the December early signing period.
Despite losing a couple of committed recruits to other schools late — Bolles School (Fla.) offensive lineman Nick Lewis flipped to Kentucky in late January and Cy-Fair (Texas) cornerback Erick Hallett flipped to Pitt last week, — the Cougs also benefited from some of the coaching changes that have taken place since December and picked up a couple of players who were formerly committed to other programs.
WSU also signed several junior college recruits to pad a young roster with some experience.
Here’s a look at the newest Cougars who complete the 2018 signing class, and what the WSU coaches, and radio analysts and former WSU quarterbacks Jason Gesser and Alex Brink had to say about them.
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Tyrese Ross: DB, 6-1, 180 pounds, Westlake High School (Atlanta, Ga.)
Ross was the first recruit to send in his NLI on Wednesday morning. Rated a three-star safety by 247Sports.com, Ross was originally a Mississippi State commit who pulled his verbal and re-opened his recruitment after coach Dan Mullen left for Florida. Ross visited WSU in late January and committed to the Cougars this week over an offer list that included Pittsburgh, UCF, West Virginia and Indiana. Ross is originally from Jacksonville, Fla. but finished his high school career in Georgia.
Gesser: “He opened his highlight film with a backflip, and compares himself to Troy Polamalu. He’s very physical, and he is quick when he strikes. He’s like a coiled snake — when he hits he expands. He reminds me of Shalom Luani and Deone Bucannon. Those are the guys I like to compare him too. Natural player, great at taking angles, never gets out of position, able to get low on those blocks and make plays in the backfield. This is a need we’ll have. Coach (Tracy) Claeys wants to be versatile. (Ross) can play a nickel, a safety, four-man rush – this kid fits exactly what Coach Claeys wants to do.”
Blake McDonald: OG, 6-4, 295 pounds, San Ramon Valley High School (Danville, Calif.)
McDonald signing with WSU is another example of how coaching changes can cause domino effects in recruiting. McDonald was committed to UCLA under the Jim Mora regime, but decommitted after Mora was fired and Chip Kelly became head coach. He then took trips to Nebraska and WSU before deciding to sign with the Cougars over offers from most of the Pac-12, including Cal, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State and Utah. McDonald led San Ramon Valley to the CIF North Coast Section Open Division playoffs last fall.
Gesser: “UCLA decommit, Nebraska offered him late. For him to come here and sign with WSU is huge. He reminds me of The Continent (Cody O’Connell) in the way he moves and how he uses his body. He played left tackle, but he’ll probably play a guard for us. Every highlight film is a pancake (block). He’d go out there and hit guys. He has to use his hands a bit better. From the inside of his body, his weight, he’ll dominate you. He’s the No. 31 guard in the country.”
Misi Aiolupotea-Pei: DL, 6-3, 250 pounds, Riverside City College (Riverside, Calif.)
Aiolupotea-Pei comes to WSU as a junior by way of Riverside City College.But the hybrid linebacker/defensive end prospect is of Polynesian descent and grew up in New Zealand and in Gold Coast, Australia. He spent most of his life playing rugby before switching to football, and his measurables are similar to that of Hercules Mata’afa. Aiolupotea-Pei had 41 tackles and 5.5 sacks at Riverside City College last season and has shown some ability as a pass rusher. The Cougars came in late on Aiolupotea-Pei, extending a scholarship offer on Jan. 26, and lining up a visit shortly thereafter. He picked WSU over offers from San Diego State and Memphis.
WSU ILB coach Ken Wilson: “Misi is one of those guys, you can see the fast first step. When he got to Riverside College, he didn’t even know how to get in a three point stance with his hand on the ground. Just everything is new to him and he’s such an exciting kid, and wants to learn. All he wanted to do on his visit was sit with Coach (Jeff) Phelps and watch film. He loved Hercules (Mata’afa). … The sky is the limit for him.
Calvin Jackson: WR, 5-9, 160 pounds, Independence C.C. (Independence, Kans.)
Jackson, originally from Pompano Beach, Fla., was recruited by outside receivers coach Derek Sage when Sage was at Toledo. He signed with Toledo out of Coral Springs Charter School in February 2016, but never enrolled there due to academic issues. Instead, Jackson spent the last two seasons at Independence Community College in Kansas. But he kept in touch with Sage and committed to WSU because he wanted to play in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. Jackson will enroll at WSU as a junior.
Brink: “He’s got a little juice. He can get out and go. I loved watching him on film, he has a mix of taking the top off, but also had some quick screens and broke some tackles, and got down the sideline. WSU is gonna need someone from this class to come in and make an impact it could be Calvin Jackson.”