Leach calls 2014 class his ‘best’

The Spokesman-ReviewFebruary 6, 2014 

PULLMAN — 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.”

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