WSU beats Stanford for the signature of Max Borghi, and its a huge coup for the Cougars. Here's the inside story on how the last three days unfolded for Borghi and WSU running backs coach Jim Mastro.

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Washington State put a flourish on an already impressive 2018 signing class Friday morning, when Max Borghi, the coveted tailback from Pomona (Colo.) High, signed a national letter-of-intent to play for the Cougars.

Borghi announced his signing via Twitter, tweeting a photo of himself decked in Cougars’ gear, signing his letter-of-intent while surrounded by all the mail WSU had sent him during the recruiting process.

“Thank you for everyone who gave me the opportunity to play ball,” Borghi said in his tweet. “It’s official, I’ll be up in January and rocking jersey No. 21. Go Cougs.”

Borghi picked the Cougars despite a strong late push from Stanford, the school he’d wanted to play for since the age of 9. His signing put an end to a stressful 48 hours that began on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period. And his addition gives the Cougars a huge boost in what was already shaping up to be the best signing class of the Mike Leach era.

Pac-12 recruiting rankings

Team,24/7 Sports,Rivals Arizona,56,52 Arizona State,37,36 Cal,41,42 Colorado,58,51 Oregon,18,15 Oregon State,61,69 Stanford,45,70 UCLA,13,18 USC,4,3 Utah,31,38 Washington,9,14 Washington State,39,45

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WSU signed 18 recruits that day, but Borghi wasn’t one of them. Instead, the tailback agonized over his decision and told WSU running backs coach Jim Mastro that he needed more time to think things through.

“It was a crazy couple of days,” Borghi said in an interview Friday morning. “Stanford offered me a while ago, and it’s been on my head for a while. That was truly my dream school growing up. But the relationship I had with coach Leach and coach Mastro and the WSU staff had almost shaped WSU into a dream school in itself.”

Borghi and Mastro had developed a close relationship during the recruiting process, and it was extremely tough for Borghi to tell Mastro on Wednesday that he wasn’t going to be signing with WSU that day because he needed more time to think over his decision.

But, said Borghi, “the way he took it really shaped me and my impression of who I wanted to play for. He was disappointed, but he understood. He told me, ‘You’ve got to do what’s best for you’ but said that I had a spot at WSU no matter what.”

Ultimately, Borghi says his relationship with Mastro and Leach proved to be the deciding factor.

“Over the recruiting process, you build relationships with every single coach, but the coaches at WSU I had built a relationship with, I was just so close with coach Mastro I can’t even describe it,” Borghi said. “I love the facilities, and the college town vibe, and how everyone likes the Cougars, and you see the symbol and you say, ‘Go Cougs.’ I’m so excited.”

Thus came the moment Friday morning that made Mastro’s year. To properly understand its significance, you have to go back to this summer and the day Borghi committed to WSU.

Mastro was with his family at his house in Reno in June when Borghi delivered the good news: he was decommitting from Colorado to commit to WSU.

Borghi, a 5-foot-10, 195-pounder, finished his prep career with 6,473 all-purpose yards and a Colorado 5A state championship. He’s a versatile running back and return specialist with impressive speed for his size, the strength to break tackles, and soft hands out of the backfield, and he had 1,690 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns, and 115 receiving yards his senior year.

In  Colorado, he was viewed as the next coming of fellow Colorado native Christian McCaffrey, whom Borghi looked up to while growing up. McCaffrey, the son offormer Denver Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey, was a Colorado prep football legend at Valor Christian, he went to Stanford, and was the No. 8 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the NFL Draft in May.

Borghi has a similar skillset to McCaffrey, who leads the Panthers with 73 receptions this season and is also their third-leading rusher.

WSU running backs coach Jim Mastro has his grandson pose for this picture when Pomona running back Max Borghi committed to WSU this summer. He resent the photo to Borghi on Friday. (Photo courtesy / Max Borghi)
WSU running backs coach Jim Mastro has his grandson pose for this picture when Pomona running back Max Borghi committed to WSU this summer. He resent the photo to Borghi on Friday. (Photo courtesy / Max Borghi)

In Mastro’s estimation, that made Borghi perfect for the WSU offense and the heir apparent to the role currently held by Jamal Morrow, who’s the most versatile of the Cougars’ trio of backs.

So after Borghi committed in June, Mastro texted him a photo of his grandson holding up a sign that read, “Welcome to the Cougar family, Max! Go Cougs.”

On Friday morning, Mastro’s wife was going through photos on her phone when she found the photo her husband had texted to Borghi in the summer.

Mastro texted the photo to Borghi, saying, “I guess I’ll have to delete this picture now.”

Borghi didn’t respond.

But two hours later, Mastro was on the phone with his mother, who lives in Colorado, when Borghi tried to Facetime him.

The coach thought Borghi was calling to tell him to his face that he was going to Stanford. Instead, when Mastro accepted Borghi’s Facetime request, he was greeted by the image of Borghi in Cougars’ gear, sitting at a desk and putting his pen to a WSU letter of intent.

“It pumped him up,” Borghi said. “It’s over, I’m a Coug.”