Leach calls Cougars’ 2014 recruiting class his ‘best’

The Spokesman-ReviewFebruary 5, 2014 

— The recruits who signed national letters of intent Wednesday to play football at Washington State University came from as far away as Alabama and Florida, and were described by coach Mike Leach as members of “the best class we’ve had at Washington State.”

However, those players might not have signed with the Cougars if not for the efforts of the players who were recruited before them.

“It’s the best (class) we’ve had here, and I think our players on campus deserve some credit for that,” Leach said. “They competed and made some of these guys feel at home. Occasionally we brought in some guys that didn’t mix well with our team, so we didn’t select them.

“Our players helped us evaluate that.”

Leach added that he doesn’t “think there is any question” the Cougars also benefited from unparalleled continuity on the WSU coaching staff. With new head coaches or coordinators at Pac-12 Conference schools such as USC and Washington, the Cougars didn’t suffer assistant turnover at any position.

Leach maintains that there is no chaff among the recruits. He said he would rather save a scholarship than offer it to someone on whom the staff wasn’t keen.

“We didn’t settle on any of them,” Leach said. “We believe they’re all great players, and you can tell that how it was contested and all the scholarship offers this group had from a variety of places.”

The WSU class was ranked No. 10 in the conference by Scout.com and No. 12 by Rivals.com, but the Cougars got some talented players.

Quarterback Peyton Bender of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., rejected a scholarship offer from Penn State, and schools that annually recruit well such as Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Oregon reportedly offered players who signed with WSU.

Leach said some players would be counted on to contribute immediately. Who those players are could be determined by their mental and physical readiness.

“Changes start setting in, and there’s a different lifestyle with classes and all that,” Leach said about the challenges a first-year player faces. “It kind of clouds a guy’s mind. When he clears that, he gets better in his tasks, both in the classroom and on the football field.”

Fans who follow WSU recruiting received a signing-day surprise when Deion Singleton sent in his letter of intent. The Chiawana High School defensive back moved to Pasco from Tallahassee, Fla., and had been offered by programs such as Louisville and Mississippi.

Billed by recruiting services as a hard-hitting safety, Singleton will play cornerback for the Cougars. Leach called the 6-foot-1 Singleton a “tall, rangy secondary player” and “just an incredible athlete.”

WASHINGTON STATE FOOTBALL SIGNEES

Sulaiman Hameed, CB, 5-11, 185, Alameda, Calif.: Named All-Metro League (San Francisco Bay Area) honorable mention. Played five positions during senior season. Posted 32 tackles with three passes defended. Was rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Frankie Luvu, LB, 6-2, 215, Pago Pago, American Samoa/Tafuna: Recorded 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery his senior season. Named All-Territory and Special Teams Player of the Year. Rated three stars by ESPN.com and Scout.com.

Hercules Mata’afa, DE, 6-3, 230, Lahaina, Hawaii: As a junior, recorded 64 tackles and 12.5 sacks. As a senior, earned All-State First Team honors. Rated three stars by ESPN.com and Rivals.com.

Kingston Fernandez, LB, 6-3, 240, Kapolei, Hawaii: As a junior, named All-Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West honorable mention. As a senior, named All-State third team after making 68 tackles, including 17 sacks. Rated three stars and the No. 2 overall prospect in Hawaii by Scout.com.

Barry Ware, WR, 6-3, 205, Corona, Calif./ Centennial: As a junior, made 45 receptions for 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a senior, caught 56 passes for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Kevin Griffin, CB, 6-1, 180, Concord, Calif.: As a senior, named All-State third team by CalHiSports.com after making 54 tackles, three for losses; had three interceptions and six passes defended. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Squally Canada, RB, 5-11, 190, Milpitas, Calif.: As a senior, earned All-Metro League (San Francisco Bay Area) second-team honors. Rushed for 1,916 yards and 24 touchdowns, averaging 8.8 yards per carry. Rated four stars and the No. 32 running back prospect in the country by ESPN.com. Rated three stars by Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Patrick Porter, CB, 6-0, 170, Cottondale, Ala./Paul Bryant: Made 68 tackles, nine for losses, four interceptions, 13 pass breakups and three forced fumbles. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Ngalu Tapa, DT, 6-3, 275, Sacramento, Calif./Luther Burbank: High school teammates with Cougars signee Calvin Green. As a senior, named all-class All-State first team by USA Today. Recorded 14.5 sacks. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Brandon Evers, OL, 6-7, 290, Redding, Calif./Enterprise: As a senior, named to Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team for medium schools. Rated three stars by Rivals.com and two stars by ESPN.com and Scout.com.

Deion Singleton, CB, 6-1, 175, Pasco/Chiawana: As a senior, led Chiawana to Class 4A state championship. Named all-class All-State by The Associated Press. Named to The News Tribune’s Western 100 and Northwest Nuggets. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, 247sports.com and Scout.com. Rated No. 18 safety prospect in the country and No. 3 overall prospect in Washington by ESPN.com.

Andre Dillard, OL, 6-5, 250, Woodinville: As a senior, named All-KingCo first team and KingCo 4A Crest Division Offensive Lineman of the Year. Rated two stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com. His father, Mitch, was an offensive lineman for the Cougars in the late 1980s.

Jalen Canty, DE, 6-8, 270, Vallejo, Calif./St. Patrick St. Vincent: Played one season of football. Named Tri-County League Lineman of the Year and all-league first team. Recorded 76 tackles. including a state-leading 22 sacks. Rated three stars by ESPN.com and Scout.com.

Greg Hoyd, LB, 6-2, 215, Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta: As a senior, earned All-Southwestern League first-team honors. Tallied 63 tackles — five for losses — and two sacks. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Zaire Andre, WR, 6-0, 170, Inglewood, Calif.: As a senior, named Ocean League Offensive Player of the Year and to the All-Wave Second Team as an all-purpose selection by the Los Angeles Wave after catching 20 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns while splitting time at quarterback. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Peyton Bender, QB, 6-1, 185, Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons: As a senior, named 5A All-State honorable mention. Went 167-for-256 for 2,184 yards, 28 touchdowns and six interceptions in 10 games. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Keith Harrington, WR, 5-9, 180, WR, St. Petersburg, Fla./Northeast: As a senior, named to Florida top 100 by Orlando Sentinel. Named Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Blue-Gray All-American Bowl Game in January after recording 304 total yards and scoring four touchdowns. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Nick Begg, TE, 6-5, 255, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.: As a senior, earned All-West Region honors by PrepStar. Rated three stars by Rivals.com and Scout.com. Graduated from SMHS in 2013, choosing to delay enrollment.

Calvin Green, WR, 5-10, 165, Sacramento, Calif./Luther Burbank: As a senior, recorded 1,701 all-purpose yards and made 52 tackles along with getting two interceptions. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Dylan Hanser, LB, 6-5, 215, Billings, Mont./Central Catholic: As a senior, earned all-state and all-conference honors at outside linebacker and tight end.

Sean Krepsz, OL, 6-5, 295, Riverside, Calif./King: As a senior, named All-State second team by CalHiSports.com. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Ricals.com and Scout.com.

Marcellus Pippins, CB, 5-11, 175, El Cerrito, Calif.: As a senior, named to All-East Bay first team. Rated three stars by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Markell Sanders, S, 6-1, 175, Sammamish/Eastside Catholic: As a senior, tallied 10 tackles and two interceptions in two games before suffering season-ending shoulder injury. Rated two stars by ESPN.com and Rivals.com.

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