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July 11, 2013

Recruiting Outlook: Safeties

As the NCAA recruiting evaluation period comes to an end and we head into the June through July quiet period, WazzuWatch.com is taking a positional look at Washington State targets in the 2014 class. We continue our Recruiting Outlook series by taking a look at the safeties targets in the upcoming class.

The Washington State secondary is the most experienced unit on the defense with a senior-laden group at both safety and cornerback expected to contribute in 2013.

Focusing on the safety position beyond 2013, defensive coordinator Mike Breske will need to replace two key components to his defensive backfield when starters Casey Locker and Deone Bucannon depart with graduation.

Beyond the Cougars' expected senior starters, both free safety and strong safety positions have quality young depth including sophomores David Bucannon and Taylor Taliulu. Da. Bucannon, the younger brother of star safety De. Bucannon, redshirted last season while Taliulu played sparingly in place of Locker at strong safety, making two starts and appearing in ten games.

Outside the two-deep, however, Breske will have some questions that need to be answered in the 2014 class and the staff has already targeted several big-time targets with Washington State interest. The staff has 14 known safety offers extended in the 2014 class thus far -- a number expected to grow in the coming months.

HOW MANY WILL THEY TAKE?

The Cougars have some intriguing incoming safety prospects in the 2013 class already on campus including two-star Darius Lemora and Charleston White, who comes to Washington State as a defensive athlete but could play either safety or cornerback. Both players are expected to redshirt.

One player to watch out for is recent 2013 addition Paris Taylor, who was a late signee to the Cougars' 2013 recruiting class out of Woodland Hills (Calif.) Peirce Community College. Taylor, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound hard hitting strong safety, played one season at Peirce before tearing an ACL that derailed his freshman season. Given he is completely healed, which is the expectation heading into fall camp, he could immediately push for playing time as a sophomore.

If the Cougars can survive 2013 with their current stable of safeties, it would be best for Taylor to redshirt in order to help bridge the gap between the 2014 class. Overall, the Cougars will likely bring in two safety prospects in this recruiting cycle bringing the total number of defensive backs to five expected in the 2014 class.

COMMITTED PROSPECTS OFF THE BOARD

The coaching staff has handed out offers to several prospects that have already eliminated the Cougars from contention including local standout Budda Baker out of Bellevue (Wash.), Mansfield (Tex.) Timberline safety Edward Paris, who committed to LSU, and San Antonio (Tex.) Roosevelt four-star Arrion Springs. Springs committed to Oregon this month.

Another prospect that figures to be an extreme long shot for Washington State is Long Beach (Calif.) Poly four-star safety John Smith. The No. 6 safety in the country hails from the same high school as incoming running back Gerard Wicks, but the Cougars are a few years away from being in contention for a prospect in the same category as Smith.

Another local safety prospect off the board is Sammamish (Wash.) Eastlake safety Drew Lewis, who previously visited Washington State earlier this year. He was long expected to commit to Pittsburgh, joining his brother, but recently committed to Washington. The 6-foot-3, 198-pound two-star prospect is a name to watch out for as we move further into the cycle with the Huskies in play for a handful of top safeties.

Derrick Dixon, a three-star safety out of Texas powerhouse Skyline, was a name that was floated around with Washington State for some time before he made a verbal commitment to Texas Tech.

THE REMAINING TARGETS

Most recently, Washington State extended an offer to Brenham (Tex.) defensive athlete Courtland Sutton, who is capable of playing several positions on the defense. Listed at 6-foot-4, 195-pounds, Sutton could play as a bigger safety type or move into the BUCK linebacker mold if he puts on some pounds over the next year.

Sutton, a three-star prospect, currently holds offers from Colorado, New Mexico, Rice, Texas State and Tulsa, in addition to Washington State, and in a conversation with the versatile defender, the Cougars jumped up his favorites list shortly after the offer.

The coaching staff also recently offered West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade safety Joseph McIntosh and although he already held a bevy of impressive offers, the Cougars appealed to the three-star right off the bat.

In addition to Washington State, McIntosh, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound prospect, has picked up offers from Boise State, Colorado State, San Jose State, UCLA and Wyoming but the three schools standing out are the Bruins, Broncos and Cougars, thus far.

Based on recent developments in his recruitment, the Cougars coaching staff looks like they could be on the outside-looking-in for Clovis (Calif.) safety Adam Soesman early in this cycle. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound three-star safety has offers from Arizona State, Fresno State, Houston, Northwestern, Oregon State and San Jose State in addition the Washington State.

Northwestern, Arizona State and Oregon State are believed to be the early leaders for Soesman, who is patiently optimistic that offers from Stanford and UCLA could be on the horizon.

One prospect that the Cougars have a realistic shot at landing is Houston (Tex.) Alief safety Joshua Kalu, who has been keeping a low profile early on in his recruitment. The 6-foot-1, 191-pound three-star is keeping an open mind and looking at all the schools that have offered him before narrowing down any favorites or potential visits.

In addition to Washington State, Kalu has received offers from Colorado, Duke, Houston, Nebraska, SMU, Wake Forest and several others. Before his senior season, Kalu would like to narrow down his list and go forward with visits. The Cougars could be square in the thick of things when that time comes.

OTHERS TO WATCH FOR

Miramar (Fla.) safety Andre Godfrey, Weston (Fla.) safety Marquese Dudley-Gordon, Gardena (Calif.) safety Glen Ihenacho and Jenks (Okla.) safety Steven Parker.

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Joseph McIntosh junior year highlights:



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