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 defensive line targets in the upcoming class.
When Mike Leach hired defensive coordinator Mike Breske to command the defense, he took on a task of rebuilding a defense that was a severe liability.
As we head into year two of the Leach era, the coaching staff has infused the defense with loads of young talent and one of the up-and-coming groups on defense is the defensive line.
Armed with a stable of youth and talented big bodies, the Cougars' defensive line appears to be set to take off in the coming years. Led by breakout junior college transfer Ioane Guata, defensive line coach Joe Salave'a has some depth to work with in 2013.
The line features just two seniors in Guata and Matthew Bock and junior college transfer Lyman Faoliu joins rising junior Kalafitoni Pole to compile a solid group of upperclassmen. In addition, third-year sophomore Xavier Cooper, when healthy, has provided a solid punch to the line and figures to be a staple at defensive end in 2013.
Looking ahead to the 2014 class, you can expect the coaching staff to continue to stress depth along the line.
HOW MANY WILL THEY TAKE
The coaching staff made the defensive line a priority in the 2013 class, bringing in Faoliu from the junior college ranks and inking sought-after defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale plus defensive endsPaulo Lepua and Gerald Sterling, who comes from Alabama all the way to the Palouse.
Joining Ekuale from American Somoa in the 2013 class was projected lineman Emmitt Sua-Kalio, although it looks like he'll begin his career at BUCK linebacker this fall.
Three-star defensive tackle Marcus Griffin, out of Bellevue (Wash.), was a big get for the staff early on and could be a catalyst for a talented group of top targets on the recruiting trail.
With 25-plus offers extended to defensive line prospects in the 2014 class thus far, I'd expect that the staff would like to bring in another three-to-four lineman during this cycle.
COMMITTED TARGETS OFF THE BOARD
Hogansville (Ga.) three-star defensive end Keshun Freeman committed to Georgia Tech.
Tulsa (Okla.) three-star defensive end Jordan Brailford committed to Oklahoma State.
Boise (Ida.) three-star defensive end Don Hill committed to Washington.
Henderson (Nev.) three-star defensive end Jarvis Polu committed to Army.
Keller (Tex.) defensive end Sione Teuhema committed to Texas.
Oklahoma City (Okla.) four-star defensive end Deondre Clark committed to LSU.
The Colony (Tex.) three-star defensive end Grant Blankenship committed to Notre Dame.
Corona (Calif.) three-star defensive end Austin Moloata committed to USC.
Fresno (Calif.) four-star defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood committed to USC.
Nashville (Tenn.) three-star defensive tackle Michael Sawyers committed to Vanderbilt.
Monterey Park (Calif.) three-star defensive tackle Michael Wyche committed to USC.
THE REMAINING TARGETS
So who's left on the Cougars' defensive line big board? The staff's number one priority on the defensive line figures to be keeping Marcus Griffin verbally committed to Washington State. Griffin is hearing increased interest from several Pac-12 programs including California and Arizona. He plans on taking all of his visits but he remains fully committed.
Katy (Tex.) defensive end Tim Wilkerson is one of the defensive line targets that has already tripped to Washington State on an unofficial visit and the Cougars are high on the two-star's list. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound lineman will likely need to put on some more weight before he's ready to play on the line but he's a tenacious defender with a high motor.
Wilkerson, who hails from Texas powerhouse Katy, currently holds offers from Dartmouth, Texas State and Toledo in addition to the Cougars and plans on getting back up to Pullman on an official visit later this fall.
Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic four-star defensive end Connor Humphreys is a prospect that could be a reach for Washington State but he has already taken multiple visits to campus and, if he stays in the Northwest, could be a realistic target down the line. Rated as the No. 7 weakside defensive end in the 2014 class, the 6-foot-3, 247-pound standout holds offers from UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Tennessee, Wisconsin and several others.
Another Texas prospect is Denton defensive end Sekou Clark, who has seen his recruitment slow down as of late but remains heavily interested in Washington State. Listed at 6-foot-3, 225-pounds, the there-star holds offers from Louisiana-Monroe and Tulane, in addition to the Cougars but has seen Big-12 interest pop up as of late.
The Cougars are in good position with Clark and it could one of those situations where they'll need to get him up to Pullman and gauge his interest more down the line.
Washington State headed out to the Islands to offer Kahuku (Hawaii) defensive end Lamone Williams and the Cougars are squarely in the thick of things for the 6-foot-3, 240-pound end. With offers from Hawaii, Oregon State, Wisconsin, Utah and Nevada, in addition to Washington State, Williams is waiting until after his senior season to take official visits. The early favorite here is Wisconsin.
The most recent offer extended along the defensive line is Muskogee (Okla.) defensive lineman Tramal Ivy. A versatile athlete that can play a number of positions but figures to be most suited for a pass-rushing end, Ivy holds offers from Kansas State, Memphis, Missouri and Washington State.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound athlete recently reported Kansas State as his favorite but the Cougars have come on strong and a visit to Pullman this fall is in the works.
OTHERS TO WATCH FOR
Compton (Calif.) Dominguez three-star Uriah Leiataua, Hesperia (Calif.) three-star Kennedy Emisibe, Pomona (Calif.) three-star Kammy Delp. Delp is being recruited as a defensive and offensive lineman by Washington State and the Cougars are one school he is keeping close tabs on.
Tramal Ivy junior season highlights: