A Closer Look: The Florida Experiment

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Happy Friday Cougs!

It’s been tough week.  One I don’t care to recap.  So lets focus on the kids that want to be Cougs shall we?…


I’ll admit it.  I was a bit skeptical of the coaching staff’s Florida recruiting experiment.  After watching Bill Doba’s desperate attempt to create a Texas pipeline blow up in smoke, how could I not be?

And we’re talking about Florida here, the COMPLETE other side of the country.  It may be the land of recruiting riches, but could we realistically take a piece of that pie? Could we legitimately convince these kids to go to school in little ol’ Pullman, 2,500-plus miles away?

Well little did we know, that when Doba was striking out in Texas, current assistant coach Chris Ball was in Tuscaloosa making connections. 

Ball followed Mike Price out of Pullman to Alabama after coaching the Cougar defensive backs from 00-02′, a group that included LaMont Thompson, Jason David, Marcus Trufant, and Erik Coleman. Unlike Price however, Chris Ball stuck with Alabama, and began a three year tenure of coaching and recruiting in SEC country.

Now, it appears we’re reaping the benefits of his tenure with the Crimson Tide.  Not only have we signed 5 commits from the Sunshine State in 2011 (so far), three of them are already in Pullman taking classes.  And that doesn’t include last year’s signing day shocker, C.J. Mizell.

Paul Wulff and his staff have recruited very well in Central California, and now they’ve definitely made a presence in Central Florida after signing 4 kids off of the Orlando Sentinel’s Annual list of the top 60 prospects in the region.  It is an impressive list indeed, with many of the prospects committed to SEC and BCS schools.

But do we have a shot at creating a legitimate pipeline with Florida?  Well, look at the connections we’ve already made…

Henry Eaddy and Isiah Myers came to WSU by way of Olympia High School in Orlando.  Myers’ stepfather, Lo Wood, is a local athletic trainer and a former high school All-American at nearby Apopka High.

Why is this significant? Well, he’s a good guy to have in our corner.  He trains some of the best talent in Central Florida, and obviously trusts our coaching staff enough to send his step-son all the way across the country.  Also, with his connections to his alma mater, Wood may have been responsible for leading us to Apopka commit Spencer Waseem.  This is totally speculation on my part, but the connection is interesting.

Speaking of connections, Eaddy and Myers are also connected to Darryl Monroe.  Monroe was they’re teammate at Olympia High, before transferring to powerhouse Dr. Phillips High School for his senior season.

I recently spoke with Brian McLaughlin, the Recruiting Writer for the Sporting News.  He lives in Daytona Beach, Florida and covers the elite prospects in the country.  Dr. Phillips featured two of the top prospects in the country, Dee Hart and Hasean Clinton-Dix, both Alabama commits, so obviously McLaughlin knows Dr. Phillips, and the rest of Florida, very well.

“I think Monroe was overshadowed a bit by Hart and Clinton-Dix, but he still managed postseason honors down here at DP with his performances,” McLaughlin said.  In fact, Monroe managed to lead one of the most talented defenses in the country with 136 tackles.  He also tabbed 8 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries.  Monroe is also enrolled and taking classes at WSU and preparing for spring ball.

Another component of that talented Dr. Phillips defense is also considering going Crimson.  Roderick Ryles, once an Arkansas commit, now has the Cougs on his final list with less than a week left to go before signing day.  He is considering WSU, Pitt, and West Virginia and apparently Darryl Monroe is doing some recruiting for us.

McLaughlin says the Cougs are very much in the mix for Ryles.  “The teammate situation with Monroe is always big…and Wazzu plays some great programs year in and year out.”

Signing Ryles would be huge.  If you look again at the Orlando Sentinel’s Super60,  you’ll see that 10 of the 60 are from Dr. Phillips High School, and 9 of those will be playing division I football…. NINE.  Landing two of them could further get our foot in the door of one of the most talent-rich high school programs in the country.

Also, if you look at the Super60, you’ll see only one Pac-10 school with a commit from the region: Washington State.

Simply put, if you look at the connections we’ve made, we could legitimately be making headway on the recruiting front in Central Florida.  At the very least, we’re raising eyebrows.  

Florida is a state thick with talent.  If you need any validation for that, check this out.  McLaughlin agrees, this could be one experiment that could pay huge dividends.  

“Bottom line, these kids have played in winning programs in one of the best programs in Florida,” says McLaughlin.  “This state is known for it’s speed at the skill positions, and these are huge pickups for a program like Washington State that is trying to rebuild.” 

As I mentioned before, McLaughlin covers national recruiting for The Sporting News.  Don’t forget to get your copy of this year’s Sporting News Recruiting Guide HERE.  

And you better hurry! Signing day is right around the corner….