Which new signees could compete immediately for playing time? And where will some of the recruits designated as 'athletes' play? WSU's coaches and analysts Jason Gesser and Alex Brink break it down
Washington State signed 18 recruits on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period. Several of WSU’s assistant coaches sat down with Matt Chazanow and former WSU quarterbacks Alex Brink and Jason Gesser Wednesday morning to break down the signing class.
WSU coach Mike Leach then talked about each signee during his signing day news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Here’s what they had to say about each of the newest Cougars.
Cade Beresford: OT, 6-7, 270 pounds, Woodinville High School (Woodinville, Wash.)
The Woodinville native started his high-school career at quarterback, but was buried on the depth chart as the third-stringer during his sophomore year. So he switched to offensive line and blossomed. Beresford is ranked the No. 8 recruit in the state of Washington, and he picked WSU over offers from USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Nebraska and UCLA. Like Woodinville alum Andre Dillard, who’s now WSU’s starting left tackle, Beresford will have to pack on some good weight before he can expect to take the field at the college level. His father, Harry Beresford, played offensive tackle at Boise State.
WSU special teams coach Eric Mele: “Great pedigree, big framed guy. He’s very athletic. I was at his basketball practice and he’s out there stroking threes. He’s got room to grow and is gonna be a 300-plus pounder.”
Former WSU QB and analyst Jason Gesser: “He’s slight, but has the frame. That’s why all these schools (like USC) came in late. You watch Dillard coming out, it was the same thing – he was tall, long, lean but athletic. You put the right weight on this kid and he can be something special.
Kendrick Catis: LB, 6-1, 235 pounds, Highland C.C. (Highland, Kan.)
Catis originally committed to Arizona State in September, but he decommited after visiting WSU two weeks ago, and surprised the Cougars by signing with them on Wednesday. His offer list included ASU, Louisville and Arkansas, and he should add immediate depth at inside linebacker. He will enroll early for spring semester.
LB coach Ken Wilson: “He’s a grown man. And he’s got two years of college football under his belt. He’s very athletic. Him and I had a relationship. He was committed to another school, we kept working, showed him how things work out here, got him to come out. … He gives us immediate depth and versatility at linebacker. He’s a good player. Physically, he’s ready to play in the Pac-12 right now…. He’s a student of the game, he likes to watch film and talk football and play the game of football.
Cammon Cooper: QB, 6-4, 210 pounds, Lehi High School (Lehi, Utah)
Cooper, a prized four-star Elite 11 quarterbacking prospect, is the son of a quarterback and is hoping to compete for the backup QB job at WSU next year. He led Lehi to a Utah 5A state championship in November to cap off a perfect senior season that saw him set multiple Utah state prep quarterbacking records. Cooper was primarily recruited by Eric Mele (who also found the last Utahn QB to light up scoreboards at WSU – Luke Falk) and will enroll at WSU in January.
WSU special teams coach Eric Mele: “We found his film and put it on, and the ball just came off his hand quick, he makes great decisions, he moves around in the pocket and moves his feet. You can see the demeanor on film – he just takes charge. We went to a practice and saw him do it with his teamamtes. He’s positive, but kinda stern on those guys, making sure they’re doing the right thing.”
Gesser: “I’m very excited about this kid. I truly do think – nothing against (Tyler) Hilinski or (John) Bledsoe or anyone else — that the kid could come in here and position himself to compete for a position next year in the fall. I’m interested to see his demeanor and how he handles his winter conditioning and spring ball.”
Ahmir Crowder: DT, 6-3, 280 pounds, Crenshaw High School (Los Angeles, Calif.)
With Daniel Ekuale and Garrett McBroom both graduating, WSU badly needed to sign a defensive tackle. Crowder fulfills that need. At 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, he can afford to pack some weight onto his frame, and, depending on how he develops, could compete for playing time early. He went to the same high school where WSU found DE Derek Moore, and played offensive tackle and defensive tackle. His offer list included Purdue, Vanderbilt and Cal.
WSU Rush LB coach Roy Manning: “Ahmir is just a man-child, the kid that, you watch the film, he’s just dominating on the inside. That was a huge need for us this year, probably the biggest need on the defensive side of the ball. Turn on the film, and Ahmir is using his hands, he’s very violent at the point of attack.”
Gesser: “He’s a big kid coming outta high school And his get-off, wow. I don’t want to crown this guy just yet, but his get-off is as good as Hercules Mata’afa’s. He’s got great hands, long arms, strong hands. When guys get on him, they don’t stay him very long. He possesses a lot of ability that’s going to be needed here on the interior DL.”
Halid Djibril, S, 6-2, 185 pounds, Cathedral High (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Djibril, a high school teammate of WSU receivers Renard Bell and Jamire Calvin, picked WSU over Oregon State on Wednesday, announcing his commitment and signing via his Twitter page at about 9:30 a.m. Djibril visited WSU on Dec. 8 and tripped to Oregon State and UW last weekend. His offer list included UW, Utah, Boston College, Colorado, USC, Iowa State, Vanderbilt and Illinois, and he’s rated a three-star recruit and the 51st safety nationally by 247Sports.com.
WSU football coach Mike Leach: He’s just a really good defensive back. Among the most complete defensive backs on our recruiting list. He’s very athletic, very explosive, and has a great sense of where the football is. He’s both fluid and physical in the way he plays.
Rodrick Fisher: WR, 6-2, 203 pounds, East Valley High School (Spokane, Wash.)
Fisher’s life story resembles that of former Ole Miss lineman Michael Oher. Fisher was legally adopted by his football coach after weathering a tough sophomore year that saw him bounce around several foster homes. Fisher thrived in his new home and finished his senior year at Spokane’s East Valley High as a U.S. Army All-American. He’s also a speedster – he won state track titles in the 100m and 200m as a junior. He’s been clocked at 10.46 in the 100m dash. WSU football coach Mike Leach says he’ll start out at outside receiver.
Leach: “He’s an incredibly fast guy with big hands and long arms, and what you don’t see generally is a guy as physical as he is, who’s as tall as he is and as fast as he is. … the fact that he went through some tough times and of course has evolved into the young man that he is, is, I think, very impressive.
Brandon Gray: WR, 6-5, 172 pounds, Cass Technical High School (Detroit, Mich.)
Tall and rangy, Gray should immediately compete for time at WSU’s depleted outside receiver spots. He’s the second Michigan recruit Roy Manning has pulled out of his old stomping grounds in as many years – Will Rodgers in 2017 – and he’s acknowledged as the top receiving prospect out of the state of Michigan. His offer list included Arkansas, Iowa State, and WSU’s Holiday Bowl opponent, Michigan State.
WSU football Chief of Staff Dave Emerick: “He came to campus this summer, and he’s a 6-foot-5, 190-pound kid who can go up and get it. Him and Camm (Cooper) were in the same camp together, so they have experience throwing the ball with each other.
WSU football coach Mike Leach: He’s a big target, very athletic. He’s gonna get bigger and stronger, even though he’s very impressive right now.
Myles Green-Richards: CB, 5-11, 175 pounds, Churchill High School (Eugene, Ore.)
Green-Richards’s only other offer was from Oregon State because he committed to WSU this summer and shut down his recruiting. He’s rated the 13th-best recruit from the state of Oregon and was primarily recruited by Eric Mele. With a 4.52 40 time, this speedy cornerback should fit in well with Alex Grinch’s Speed D.
Mele: “Speed. Speed D. He ran a laser-time 4.5 (40), he’s a 4.2 shuttle guy and his vertical jump is over three feet. He went to Churchill, and his high school went to the state championship this year. He’s under-recruited. He’s a guy we wanted, and we’re happy to have him. … His mom’s a Beaver and his dad’s a Duck.
Gesser: You can put him at safety and nickel, he showed punt return ability, he’s very athletic and he also played receiver. I love how that mentality has continued to take place here. Bring in the best athlete with that type of speed and we’ll help them grow.”
Brennan Jackson: DE, 6-4, 238 pounds, Great Oak High School (Temecula, Calif.)
Jackson’s smarts are indisputable – his early offer list included Navy, Yale and Princeton. Recruited by Ken Wilson, Jackson visited WSU in the spring and committed soon after. He’s friends from WSU CB Darrien Molton, who’s also from the greater San Diego area. Jackson projects as a pass-rushing defensive end.
Wilson: “He’s a real smart guy, a 4.0 student who could have gotten into any school. He’s a real good pass rusher, he played some offense at tight end and can run and catch and can do a lot of things and get in backfield. He’s gonna get bigger too, we really like that.”
Drue Jackson: WR, 6-1, 186 pounds, Sachse High School (Sachse, Texas)
Jackson’s nickname is ‘Juice’ and he’s ranked 83rd at wide receiver nationally. He was recruited primarily by Dave Nichol. He picked WSU over an offer list that included Utah and Texas Tech, and announced his decision with a slickly-produced commitment video in October. Jackson played mostly outside receiver in high school and has said that he picked WSU because he was drawn to the allure of playing in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense.
Emerick: “He’s a big physical kid from the state of Texas. He’s a guy from a great high school program, he made a lot of plays and was a highly-recruited guy.”
Gesser: “This guy has position versatility. He can go inside or outside. That’s why they really like him.
Brink: “He’s a really highly-rated player, but his best football is ahead of him. He’s only gonna get better as he goes forward. His production wasn’t off the charts in high school because he was playing in a system that wasn’t highlighting him as being that guy. When the ball was in his hands, he was making plays. There were a lot of screens on his highlight film.
Jarrett Kingston: OT, 6-5, 255 pounds, Anderson High School (Anderson, Calif.)
At 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, Kingston is on the light side for a lineman, but will be expected to pack on some good weight under WSU strength coach Jason Loscalzo. The Cougars have a history of success in recruiting lighter, more athletic projects and turning them into linemen (see, Dillard, Andre.) Kingston is intriguing because he is athletic enough that he played tight end in high school was also recruited by some schools as a defensive end.
Leach: “Strong physical, he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. He’s one of those guys who likes throwing things around has the mentality that you love with an offensive lineman.”
Jonathan Lolohea: DT, 6-3, 310 pounds, Copiah-Lincoln C.C. (Wesson, Miss.)
Lolohea is originally from Hercules Mata’afa’s hometown of Lahaina, Hawaii. But he’s spent the last couple years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. He picked WSU over offers from Colorado and TCU, and fills a big need for WSU at defensive tackle.
Gesser: “He’s a big guy out of Maui. … he’s one of those guys, you’re not gonna have a lot of stats on the kid, or sexy appeal. But he’s a production player, and what his job is, is making sure those offensive guards and centers do not get to the linebackers. Those guys create such havoc on the inside, it creates the double team.
Brink: “That’s the type of guy you have to have to have a successful defense. They keep offensive guards and centers off the middle linebacker. He’s gonna be a space-eater. …and he fills such a need when you lose guys like (DTs Dan) Ekuale and (Garrett) McBroom.
D’Angelo McKenzie: S, 5-10, 165 pounds, Valley Christian School (San Jose, Calif.)
McKenzie’s recruitment was a good indicator of how far WSU has come under Mike Leach and Alex Grinch. The safety chose WSU despite originally leaning toward Notre Dame, which he visited in July. Recruited primarily by Jim Mastro, McKenzie also had offers from Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA. He’s rated the 56th-best safety prospect nationally by 247Sports.com. McKenzie’s Valley Christian team lost in the CIF Central Coast sectional semifinals to eventual champ, Serra.
WSU RB coach Jim Mastro: “For a high school player, the physical nature (with which) he played was just off the charts. That was the first thing that attracted me to him. You watch him play, it’s hard to find a high school football player who’ll light you up like that. He saw where this program is headed and where it’s going and realized this was the best place for him. His official visit sealed it for him. … his personality is infectious, everybody likes him. He’s a great kid.
Gesser: “From talking to coach (Alex) Grinch, he’s in a mold like Jalen Thompson. If If DeAngelo can do the things Jalen can do – when you’re 5-11 and smacking guys the way he’s smacking guys, that’s very impressive. He brings the skillset and versatility that coach Mastro is talking about.
Patrick Nunn: ATH, 6-3, 206 pounds, Junipero Serra High School (San Mateo, Calif.)
Nunn is another electric receiving prospect who should immediately compete for playing time. The question, of course, is where he’ll play. Nunn is one of the most athletic signees in this class and can play receiver, defensive back or defensive end, though, it sounds like the Cougars will start him out on defense. This caps off a big week for Nunn, who won a California class 2A state championship with Junipero Serra last Friday. Nunn had three receptions for 33 yards in his team’s win over Cajon. The big, multitalented prospect has also been selected for the Polynesian Bowl in January.
Mastro: “He’s an unbelievable athlete. The more you watch him, and watch him play, there’s so many things he can do. He could have made our (recruiting) board at receiver, safety and outside linebacker.He’s big and long. In the (California) state final game, he’d never played cornerback in his life, they stuck him at cornerback and won the state championship. We watched him on offense last year, and this year on his high school team they put him on defense too. To me he’s the steal of this class.
Brink: This is one of the best films of the guys in this class. Nunn’s film was like none other. HE’s big, long and fast, and he makes plays all over the field. It’s rare that a guy can come into a Division I program and pick the spot where he wants to be. He can be an edge rusher or DB.
Syr Riley: OG, 6-3, 323 pounds, Palisades High School (Pacific Palisades, Calif.)
Riley was primarily recruited by Roy Manning, and he picked WSU over offers from Cal, Navy, Colorado State and Utah State. His specialty? The pancake block. As Mike Leach expressed it, “he put a lot of people on their backs.” Random fact about Riley: He runs a small baking business, and has sold brownies to buy himself football equipment or raise money for the black student union. Sounds like he’ll be a popular member of the WSU offensive line.
Manning: “He’s a bundle of joy to be around. He’s a bubbly kid. This kid really loves football. He loves practicing, he loves the grind, he loves the things that are hard about it. Which is such a great quality to have. Syr’s a big guy, and he’s light on his feet to be that size. His ceiling is so high, his best days of football are in front of him.
Gesser: “He led the team with 55 pancake blocks in 12 games, and he had a 63-yard interception return touchdown on defense.”
R.J. Stone: DE, 6-4, 215 pounds, Valley Christian School (San Jose, Calif.)
Ranked the No. 51 DE prospect in the country, Stone was a late addition to the WSU recruiting class. He’s the son for former NFL Pro Bowl offensive lineman Ron Stone, was teammates with safety D’Angelo McKenzie in high school, and was primarily recruited by Jim Mastro. Stone picked WSU over offers from Arizona State, Oregon State and Utah and can play outside linebacker or defensive end.
Mastro: He’s a pure pass rusher. His dad is Ron Stone who played 12 years in the NFL. …He’s big, long and athletic and was real deliberate in the recruiting process. It wasn’t about (playing with high school teammate) DeAngelo (McKenzie). It was about the fit on defense.
Gesser: He’s a rush linebacker, that stand up end like Frankie Luvu who can drop into the zone or rush the quarterback. He has great size, great length, he’s very physical… will attack the quarterback. … he had very violent hands where he gets the offensive lineman’s hands off him and gets to the quarterback in the backfield.
Kedron Williams: LB, 6-1, 190 pounds, St. John Bosco School (Bellflower, Calif.)
Williams is a hybrid linebacker/safety who can deliver hard hits but is also comfortable dropping into coverage, and with that skillset, he could compete for a spot at nickelback in the future. He was recruited primarily by Roy Manning, who, conveniently, also coaches WSU’s nickelbacks.
Leach: Really a good linebacker, very quick. And one of those guys who’s always around the football and great at finding the football.
Manning: He’s kind of a sleeper, and I love sleepers. I pride myself on sleepers – those are the guys I think go a little bit unnoticed. He played at St. John Bosco, and every coach in America stops there, but they’ve got a secondary that’s out of this work and he plays that nickel spot for them. … I go watch them practice and he’s bigger than you think, closer to 6-foot-2. When you see him. I’m watching his feet, he’s covering these slots, and he’s big and he’s got great feet. …I was very impressed with him. His film is dynamic, he makes all these plays in open space, which is such a good quality to have.
Kassidy Woods: WR, 6-2, 200 pounds, Greenhill School (Addison, Texas)
Woods picked WSU over offers from Nebraska, Iowa State and SMU. He was primarily recruited by Dave Nichol, and caught 37 balls for 589 yards and eight touchdowns during his senior season. He also played basketball at Greenhill School.
Brink: “He’s got the ability to break some tackles and move the chains after he catches the football. I think a guy like Woods is really important for this class.”
Gesser: “He reminds me a of a receiver I had back in the day that transferred from Florida State – Devard Darling. He’s a big guy who can go up and make plays. He’s 6-foot-3, 200 pounds coming out of high school, and a lot of his catches were over DBs. … Watching his film, he had three to four different quarterbacks throwing to him, and I’ll be honest, they weren’t the best. He had to go make some catches with bad balls thrown to him.”
ARCHIVE: Here’s the breakdown of recruits WSU signed as part of the 2017 class back in February, and what the coaches thought of each signee at the time.