Confusion one week, promise the next.
That may be the best way to describe how the last seven days have played out for Texas native Cedrick Pellum and the other high school prospects who signed letters of intent with Washington State last December, anticipating a future in the Pac-12 North with one of the conference’s most established and offensively gifted coaches.
When Pellum woke up Thursday morning, the three-star wide receiver from Dallas was still champing at the bit to play in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense – as friendly to wide receivers as it is quarterbacks.
When Pellum went to bed the same night, it was no longer a reality. Leach accepted a head coaching job at Mississippi State, and several Washington State assistants were presumed to follow him to Starkville.
Where did that leave Pellum and 17 other Washington State signees? Stressed out, for one.
“Shoot, it’s been a lot,” Pellum said by phone Wednesday. “With the media and not getting the info when Leach left. Yeah, it’s been a lot. … I felt like he should’ve talked to us about it and then the whole extension with 2024, I thought he was going to get extended.”
Just three days later, it was another swing of emotions for the James Madison High standout. No, he wouldn’t be playing for Leach. Yes, he’d still be playing football for the Cougars in an offense that spotlights the receiver position.
“I feel like it’s the same thing (as the Air Raid),” Pellum said of the run-and-shoot. “Just with a little bit more run game.”
Current players have already voiced their excitement to start the Nick Rolovich regime in Pullman, and the ones that’ll begin arriving on campus this June also seem to be taking to the new WSU coach.
Pellum’s already invested time into studying the offense he’ll be a part of this fall, watching various cut-ups of the run-and-shoot system Rolovich employed at the University of Hawaii the last two seasons.
“Lot of research,” he said. “I’ve been watching a couple games of the offense.”
Several signees are more familiar with Rolovich. Many, like defensive end Gabriel Lopez of Desert Pines in Las Vegas, passed up Hawaii and other Mountain West schools while chasing a dream to play in the Pac-12 Conference. Rolovich began following WSU’s signees on Twitter earlier this week, but he’d already followed Lopez while trying to lure the talented edge rusher to Honolulu.
“They recruited me pretty well, so it wasn’t just a brand new coach, it was a familiar face,” Lopez said. “So it was good for me.”
Lopez added that he admires how Rolovich “cares about what you do outside of the field, so like after football. That’s the biggest thing for me, because I know football’s going to end eventually.”
Others, like Arizona offensive lineman Dylan Mayginnes, weren’t familiar with “Rolo” when The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman broke the news about WSU’s new coach Monday night just minutes before the national championship game ended.
Mayginnes effectively shut down his recruitment after committing to the Cougars last spring, telling The Spokesman-Review on Tuesday, “I was kind of bummed out about (Leach), but I’m not going to Washington State because of the coaches. I’m going there to do what I can do on the football field and go there for school and it’s kind of for me.”
But after doing his homework and chatting with older brother Hunter, a current offensive lineman for the Cougars, Dylan said he warmed up to the idea of playing for Rolovich.
“I’d never heard of him because I didn’t get recruited by Hawaii,” Dylan Mayginnes said. “I was excited and I was like, OK, we’ve just got to go to work now and hope for everything to go well.”
While Rolovich traveled from Hawaii to the mainland to interview with WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun, Cougars outside linebacker signee Moon Ashby made the opposite trip, flying to Honolulu earlier this week to play in the Polynesian Bowl.
Ashby used words like “great” and “excited” when describing his reaction to the Rolovich news and spent time this week discussing the future of the program with Hawaiian WSU quarterback signee Jayden de Laura, who played in the run-and-shoot while at Honolulu’s Saint Louis High.
“(Jayden) was saying it could be something special,” Ashby said, “so it definitely has my attention.”
The Valley Christian (San Jose, California) product indicated Rolovich hadn’t phoned recruits yet, but shared his phone number with one of them and suggested they pass it along to the others in a group text message chat.
“Everybody just seems real excited about it,” Lopez said. “Everybody was just real confused when coach Leach left. It was all scattered, nobody knew what was going to happen or what they were going to do.”
Lopez and 17 others spent the better part of five days waiting. It might as well have been five months.
Once the wait was over, though, Lopez and his fellow signees seemed to like what they saw.
“I feel with the new coach, coach Rolovich, it’s just full steam ahead now.”
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