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Live thread: Washington State announces first wave of signees as early signing period begins

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 22, 2017

Three-star high school quarterback Gunner Cruz, of Queen Creek, Arizona, gave Washington State a verbal pledge on Thursday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Three-star high school quarterback Gunner Cruz, of Queen Creek, Arizona, gave Washington State a verbal pledge on Thursday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – The year of 2017 brought us a solar eclipse, the downfall of net neutrality, a feud between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, a feud between Donald Trump and LaVar Ball and now finally, the NCAA’s new early signing period.

The third week of December has become every bit as important as the first week of February for college football coaches far and wide and the staff at Washington State will hope to secure more than a dozen signatures before it shifts its full attention to the Dec. 28 Holiday Bowl against Michigan State.

Mike Leach and his assistants will give the fax machine some distance when they head out to Rogers Field for a noon bowl practice, but by the time they return, there’s a good chance they’ll have a bulk of the 2018 class locked up.

The early signing period, which runs today through Friday, doesn’t replace but rather supplements the traditional National Signing Day that will fall on the 7th day of February next year.

It’s still in WSU’s best interest to collect as many autographs as it can today. Below you’ll find a live thread of those players who’ve chosen to sign early with the Cougars. The thread will be updated throughout the day with bios and highlight tapes as more names come in.

(Click on player’s name to access Twitter bio; player offers according to 247Sports)

Brandon Gray

Position: Wide receiver

Height/weight: 6-5, 172

High school: Cass Tech (Detroit, Michigan)

Other P-5 offers: Arkansas, Iowa St., Minnesota, Syracuse, Michigan St., Wisconsin

The scoop: It must have taken a heckuva recruiting pitch from the Cougars to bring Gray out west. WSU is not only the only Pac-12 offer that he lists, but it’s also the only school Minnesota that apparently gave him a look. Then again, the Cougars have gone far and wide for their receivers, so maybe all it took for Gray was a glance at WSU’s passing numbers under Mike Leach. At 6-5, 172, Gray is another player who should be able to give the Cougars an immediate hand on the outside.

Kendrick Catis

Position: Inside linebacker

Junior college: Highland C.C. (Highland, Kansas)

Other P-5 offers: Arizona State

The scoop: Intially, Catis verbally pledged to the Pac-12 program in Tempe, but he decommitted from Arizona State less than two weeks ago. An inside linebacker from Deerfield, Florida, Catis spent his last two years at the junior college in Kansas and finished his sophomore season at the Scotties’ second-leading tackler with 70 takedowns. That’s in addition to 12.5 tackles-for-loss, one interception and one forced fumble.

Cammon Cooper

Position: Quarterback

High school: Lehi (Lehi, Utah)

Height/weight: 6-3, 179

Other P-5 offers: Arizona St., Georgia, Indiana, Iowa St., Kansas, Louisville, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Oregon St., North Carolina, Missouri

If anybody’s going to push Tyler Hilinski for QB1 next year, it’d probably be Cooper. Built to run Leach’s Air Raid offense, the Lehi signal-caller rewrote Utah’s record books throughout a senior season that culminated with a resounding 55-17 win in the state title game. The passing marks he holds include: season passing yards (4,726), season touchdown passes (58), season completions (331), career TD passes (118) and career completions (876). Luke Falk previously held the completions record.

Cade Beresford

Position: Offensive line

High school: Woodinville (Woodinville, Washington)

Height/weight: 6-7, 270

Other P-5 offers: USC, Arizona, Arizona St., Nebraska, Oregon St., UCLA

Not quite The Continent 2.0, but at 6-7, 270, Beresford will already have the frame to compete for playing time on an offensive line that’ll be on the lookout for three new starters next fall. Beresford was taking snaps as a third-string quarterback for Woodinville only two years ago, but he buffed up in a major way. Just how much? He was 200 pounds as a sophomore, so you can do the math.

Jarrett Kingston

Position: Offensive line/defensive line

High school: Anderson (Anderson, California)

Height/weight: 6-5, 255

Other offers: Wyoming, Nevada, Sacramento State, San Diego State

Kingston didn’t have much in the way of Power Five interest, but then again, hasn’t been the case for most of WSU’s trenchmen over the years? UW and Colorado reportedly took a peek, but the Cougars signified his only Pac-12 offer. A two-way player at Anderson High, Kingston racked up 56 tackles, 20 TFL, and 8.5 sacks as a junior, but given that Clay McGuire was his primary recruiter, it seems Kingston is primed for a future on the WSU O-line.

Brennan Jackson

Position: Defensive line

High school: Great Oak (Temecula, California)

Height/weight: 6-4, 238

Other P-5 offers: Arizona, Cal, Iowa State

A three-star prospect from southern California, Jackson chose the Cougars over two Pac-12 schools and Princeton. As a junior at Great Oak, he totaled 72 tackles and four sacks before verbally pledging to WSU over the summer. Jackson doubled as a tight end for his high school in Temecula, but his future in Pullman is certainly on the defensive side of the ball.

Patrick Nunn

Position: Defensive back

High school: Junipero Serra (San Mateo, California)

Height/weight: 6-3, 206

Other offers: Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Jose State, UNLV, Wyoming

Serra won the first CIF State title in its history last Friday and a school-record 13 wins probably wouldn’t have happened without Nunn, a Swiss Army knife defensive back/wide receiver who took cornerback out for a spin for the first time during the Division 2-A finals against Cajon of San Benardino. Cajon entered the contest with 735 points on the year – more than anyone in the state – and came out of it with just 749. That’s partially because of the job Nunn did on 6-8 Cajon receiver and Texas A&M target Darren Jones. In listing Nunn as its Athlete of the Week, the San Mateo Daily Journal wrote, “Congratulations, Washington State. You’re getting a good one.”

Syr Riley

Position: Offensive line

High school: Palisades (Pacific Palisades, California)

Height/weight: 6-3, 323

Other P-5 offers: Cal

A win over then fifth-ranked USC certainly didn’t hurt the Cougars on the recruiting trail and it certainly caught the eyes of three-star guard Syr Riley, who committed just three days after the upset win in Pullman. “That whole start to finish, that was remarkable,” Riley told Southern California Prep Insider. Riley’s weight (323 pounds) would currently make him the third-biggest of the returning offensive linemen on WSU’s roster and if the Cougars keep him at guard, he might be able to push for one of the two starting vacancies.

Kedron Williams

Position: Linebacker/safety

High school: St. John Bosco (Bellflower, California)

Height/weight: 6-1, 190

Other P-5 offers: Boston College

WSU was the first to offer Williams, who graduates this spring from the prestigious St. John Bosco in southern California. Williams is listed as an outside linebacker, but some seem to think the Cougars could deploy him as a safety, or potentially at the hybrid “nickel” spot that Hunter Dale’s mastered this season. During St. John Bosco’s 2016 run to the CIF Open Division state championship, Williams made 33 tackles.

Myles Green-Richards

Position: Defensive back

High school: Churchill (Eugene, Oregon)

Height/weight: 5-11, 175

Other P-5 offers: Oregon State

Green-Richards picked up interest on the recruiting trail after clocking a 4.52 40-yard dash at The Opening regional competition in Oakland this past spring. The hometown Ducks showed interest, but never offered Green-Richards. Oregon State did, but Green-Richards gave a commitment to WSU over the summer, even before he made a transfer from South Eugene High to Churchill.

D’Angelo McKenzie

Position: Defensive back

High school: Valley Christian (San Jose, California)

Height/weight: 5-10, 165

Other P-5 offers: Arizona, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah

McKenzie told a few high-profile programs “no” when he told WSU “yes.” Notre Dame included. A three-star defensive back with offers from five other Pac-12 programs, McKenzie should be a weapon for Alex Grinch’s secondary given that he can play both corner and safety. Although, Robert Taylor’s departure might lead one to believe safety is more likely. Scout.com recruiting director Brandon Huffman lists him as the fifth-best defensive back on the west coast.

Kassidy Woods

Position: Wide receiver

High school: Greenhill School (Addison, Texas)

Height/weight: 6-2, 200

Other P-5 offers: Iowa State, Nebraska

One year after Jamire Calvin flipped from Nebraska to WSU on National Signing Day, the Cougars got another receiver who was considering the Cornhuskers to ink a Letter of Intent. Woods will enter the fray after a superb senior season that saw him make 37 catches for 589 yards and eight touchdowns. He visited WSU during the Cougars’ bye week and made his verbal commitment only days later.

Ahmir Crowder

Position: Defensive line

High school: Crenshaw (Los Angeles)

Height/weight: 6-3, 280

Other P-5 offers: Purdue, Vanderbilt

Crowder’s been a two-way lineman for the Crenshaw Cougars, but it looks like the WSU Cougars are interested in employing on the defensive side – perhaps at tackle. Roy Manning’s recruiting helped WSU hold off the likes of Purdue and Vanderbily for Crowder, who signs with the Cougars despite not having taken his official visit yet.

RJ Stone

Position: Defensive line

High school: Valley Christian (San Jose, California)

Height/weight: 6-4, 215

Other P-5 offers: Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah

If it’s any indication how good Valley Christian’s defense was, consider that WSU snapped up two members of it on Early Signing Day. The Warriors pitched three shutouts and gave up 13.9 points per game en route to a 9-3 finish. Stone’s abilities as a pass-rusher were a big part of that. The West Catholic Athletic League Defensive Lineman of the Year also has strong football genes. His father Ron is the coach at Valley Christian and spent 12 years in the NFL, winning two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys.

Drue Jackson

Position: Wide receiver

High school: Sachse (Sachse, Texas)

Height/weight: 6-1, 186

Other P-5 offers: Utah, Colorado, Connecticut, Duke, Illinois, Louisville, Iowa, Iowa State, Oregon State, Texas Tech, Wisconsin.

The gem of this 2018 class? A four-star prospect according to ESPN and other services, Jackson is the 66th ranked receiver of the 2018 class and had caught 24 passes for 393 yards and three touchdowns through seven games when he committed to WSU in late October. Jackson spurned one of Leach’s Air Raid disciples – Kliff Kingsbury and Texas Tech – and a handful of other high majors by signing with the Cougars. Among this deep receiver class the bringing in, it’s very possible the Sachse wideout is the most talented.

Halid Djibril

Position: Defensive back

High school: Cathedral (Los Angeles)

Height/weight: 6-2, 185

Other P-5 offers: Oregon State, Utah, USC, Washington, Vanderbilt, Iowa State, Illinois, Colorado, Boston College.

Did a last-minute phone call to Renard Bell or Jamire Calvin do the trick? A former high school teammate of the WSU receivers, Djibril was down to four Pac-12 schools – WSU, USC, Utah and Oregon State – when he announced his decision during a hat ceremony today. Djibril was originally committed to the Beavers, but the Angelus League’s most valuable defensive player visited Corvallis seven days after traveling to Pullman and clearly had a better experience on the Palouse. The Cougars lost Rob Taylor, but their situation at safety now looks pretty solid going forward.

Jonathan Lolohea

Position: Defensive line

Junior college: Copiah-Lincoln C.C. (Wesson, Mississippi)

Height/weight: 6-3, 310

Other P-5 offers: Kansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisville, Maryland, Oregon State, TCU, Utah

The former Kansas commit reopened his recruiting in September and gave WSU his word three days before the Apple Cup. A massive get for the Cougars – both in size and importance – Lolohea might jostle for starting reps at nose tackle without Daniel Ekuale in the mix anymore. Before his year at Copiah-Lincoln, Lolohea played one season at Los Angeles Valley College. And before that, he was a member of the Laihanaluna High team, the same program that produced WSU’s consensus All-American defensive tackle, Hercules Mata’afa.

Roderick Fisher

Position: Wide receiver

Height/weight: 6-2, 203

High school: East Valley High (Spokane)

Other offers: Utah, Boise State

Fisher has an incredible story. WSU fans will also find he’s also an incredible athlete. They might find it out sooner rather than later, too. The Army All-American was the 2A Great Northern League MVP as a senior and could provide immediate help to WSU’s outside wide receiver situation. Fisher ran Washington’s top 100-meter time last spring (10.46) and clocked a 200-meter dash that was also the best in the Evergreen State.

Max Borghi

Position: Running back

High school: Pomona (Arvada, Colorado)

Height/weight: 5-10, 195

Other P-5 offers: Colorado, Arizona, Cal, Kansas State, North Carolina, Stanford, Utah

Borghi will be arriving in Pullman fresh off a Class 5A state championship run – the first of its kind at Pomona High, located in the Denver suburbs. As a senior, he accumulated 2,101 all-purpose yards and 29 touchdowns. Earlier this week, Borghi was named the Denver Post’s 2017 Gold Helmet winner – a distinction that the Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey earned only four years earlier.

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