Archive for the ‘Darren Markle’ Category

Rookie Watch – Checking in on Morning Practice

August 13, 2009


Hello Cougar Nation,

Longball here to give you an update on what I saw at today’s AM practice. As you may know coach Wulff has split the squads into two sessions each day, rookies in the morning and veterans in the afternoon. It’s all about reps, according to coach Wulff, and it’s a good chance to get as much work as possible for everyone. This morning I got a good glimpse of the future and my first impression…two words:

Jeff Tuel

If anyone watched Tuel’s highlight reel you know the kid shows a great arm to go with some live feet. Check it out here, by the way…

The highlights pretty much alternate between 60 yard TD runs and 60 yard TD passes. I can tell you that in person, he looks great, comfortable and in command leading the rookie offense up and down the field against the rookie D. He showed an easy throwing motion, strong arm and good accuracy, but also a great instinct for when to tuck and go. I was really excited by what I saw. He still looks very young and has a lot of filling out to do on his 6’3″ frame, so lets drop any talk of him playing this year right now. But the future looks very bright for this young man.

On defense I was really excited to see Darren Markle, the highly touted middle linebacker and serious power-lifter(400 bench, 600+ squat!?!), but it was another linebacker who really stood out to me.

Sekope Kaufusi

Good luck pronouncing his name. But however you choose to say it, Sekope stands out on the field not only because of the rock star mane of hair flowing out the back of his helmet, but also because of his size. He lines up at middle linebacker, but has defensive end size. This kid looks like he could be a lot to handle in years to come.

For the most part the O line seemed to have the upper hand, giving Tuel decent time and opening nice holes for the running backs, but whenever a running back found a nice seam up the middle they were met with a pretty loud pop in the defensive backfield followed a lot of cries of “Nice hit Jamal!” That Jamal I speak of? Safety Jamal Atofau, already making a name for himself out there.

Add Jamal to the list of young Cougs you can be very excited about for the future.

Other notes – It was interesting to see former wideout Anthony Houston running with the defense this morning as a cornerback, albeit a very large cornerback. It will be interesting to see if he can develop into a serviceable corner. With his size it would definitely help the defense match up against big receivers. Anyone who was at the Okie State game last year knows what I’m talking about?!

I had a brief chat with Co-defensive coordinator Jody Sears this morning and he succinctly reiterated what we’ve been hearing a lot about this team… bigger, faster, stronger and tougher. Sure sounds good!

That’s it for this morning folks. I will be at the afternoon session too get my first impressions of the guys we will be counting on to make a return to being competitive year. Check in later to see if there is any truth to this talk about gettin’ tough. Until then…

GO COUGS!

And So it Begins…

February 4, 2009

Super Sunday or, EH?; Best of Lists Continue

February 1, 2009


Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Ready to watch Pittsburgh and Arizona settle things on the field? And as a Seahawks fan, this is a tough one, and a question that has been sportstalk-fodder the last two weeks – who do YOU root for today? Do you root for your divisional rival in Arizona, a team that was a complete joke until just a few years ago, often times compared to the LA Clippers in terms of losing as well as ownership ineptness? But as Hooty wrote recently, do you really want to see the Arizona Cardinals with a Lombardi trophy before our beloved Seahawks??

Meanwhile, as Matt Hasselbeck said in a radio interview this week, how can Seahawks fans root for Darth Vader in the Pittsburgh Steelers? I stumbled upon the 2006 NFL Films production of the Seahawks – Steelers Super Bowl last night on ESPN2, and about 30 seconds was all I could stomach before flipping it off. I forgot about how sour that game tasted.

Besides, there isn’t a rooting interest from a WSU angle, as neither roster has a WSU player to be found, not even on practice squads or injured reserve. So it might be a weird feeling today.

But whatever. Enjoy the unofficial national holiday today, wherever you are.

Anyway, with signing day nearly upon us, some more “best of the west” recruiting lists have hit cyberspace. Where does WSU fit with these new lists? How about the “other” BCS school in the state?

Leading off with the good news, Scout.com has released their final Best 150 in the West list. Good news because WSU weighs in with ten recruits on this list, good for third in the PAC-10 behind UCLA and USC, seven of which are in the top 100.

Gino Simone – 44
Darren Markle – 57
Travis Long – 70
Arthur Burns – 84
Nolan Washington – 89
Jamal Atofau – 97
Chris Mastin – 100
Anthony Carpenter – 117
Jeff Tuel – 137
Andre Barrington – 141

As Scout.com says, all are three-star players, except for Simone’s four star rating.

I think this list says it all. Not so much that we’re getting the best of the best talent ala USC. But it speaks to the depth of this class and the potential it has to really build a strong foundation going forward. Getting seven of the top 100 alone speaks volumes for the kind of progress Wulff and the staff are making out on the trail. And the high-character stories on a lot of these kids is probably the best thing of all.

UW landed seven verbals on the list, but not a single one in the top 100. The highest-rated kid is none other than Desmond Trufant, coming in at 108.

Moving on, the News Tribune has their 2008-09 Western 100 out today. As the TNT says:

The Western 100 are the top 100 high school football recruits in the West (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming), as selected by The News Tribune, which polled college coaches and various media outlets.

WSU finished with only THREE players on this list – Gino Simone, Darren Markle and Travis Long. Quite a difference compared to Scout.com. Washington? Um, zero. Even in a transition year with the new coaching staff, a zero? Really? I don’t remember the last time they didn’t even have one player in the top 100 in the western states.

The TNT also had this comp article with Wulff and Sarkisian. It’s a good look at the different states of the recruiting process for both coaching staffs. Wulff’s staff appears to have their footing, while Sarkisian is still scrambling to cobble something together before Wednesday.

One thing I found interesting about Sarkisian in that article is the idea of them selling the players on playing in the NFL. That somehow his system is going to prepare them for playing in the league, better than the other schools around. That’s an easy thing for him to sit in living rooms and tout all the players he’s helped coach up to play on Sundays…..while wearing a USC sweatsuit. Will he be able to say the same thing after a few years in Seattle? We’ll see. But somehow I doubt he’s going to have the same success in getting kids into the league…ya THINK?

Now I don’t want to sit here and tout a whopping three players for WSU either. While we do believe this WSU class is looking strong in terms of overall depth, filled with high character, high-ceiling types, it’s safe to say we still have a ways to go before we are challenging the upper half of the conference. But it’s been preached since Wulff was introduced in December, and that is that this thing is going to take a while to build. As Wulff himself said all season long, we have to build layers upon layers upon layers of depth, so you aren’t forced to throw the young out into the wild. But I am also confident in saying that IF Wulff can sign at least two more recruiting classes like this one, the ideal program Wulff is shooting for will be much closer to reality.

That’s it for a super Sunday. ENJOY YOUR DAY, and GO COUGS!

Simone Edges Markle for "Must Have" of 2008

December 30, 2008

The poll closed several days ago, but we thought it would be a good idea to acknowledge it – Gino Simone has won out in the “must have” category for this year’s class. Simone received 66 votes, compared to 64 for Darren Markle. Good timing too, with Simone’s re-affirming his pledge to go Crimson over the weekend. But Markle, the top-25 middle linebacker/strongman from Idaho, made it pretty close.

Speaking of recruiting, I thought it was interesting to see how ESPN.com ranks some of the WSU commits for this upcoming class:

2009 Player Commitments
NAME POS STATE GRADE STATUS NOTES
Sebastian Valenzuela OG CA 76 Verbal
Darren Markle ILB ID 76 Verbal
Nolan Washington ATH WA 76 Verbal
William Prescott OT CA 75 Verbal
Anthony Carpenter ATH CA 75 Verbal
Chris Mastin DE WA 75 Verbal
Gino Simone WR WA 74 Verbal
Jeff Tuel QB CA 72 Verbal
Arthur Burns RB CA 72 Verbal
Casey Locker S WA 72 Verbal
Andre Barrington OLB WA 68 Verbal
Jamal Atofau S WA 40 Verbal
Quayshawn Buckley DT CA 40 Verbal
Justin Clayton DE CA 40 Verbal
Travis Long DE WA 40 Verbal
Jordan Pu’u-Robinson DE HI 40 Verbal

(note that a grade of 40 for ESPN’s ratings basically means that they haven’t been fully evaluated yet). But what I thought was interesting is that Scout.com labels Simone the top player in the state of Washington this year, yet only earns a 74 in the ESPN scale, actually lower compared to other Washington preps like Nolan Washington and Chris Mastin.

But whatever. I know it’s splitting hairs at this point, and really, what are these so-called grades all about? We all know the road is littered with players who were highly rated coming in, yet never panned out. In fact, Athlon’s goes out of their way every year in their preview issue to point out who matched the hype, and who missed the mark by a wide margin. It’s a real eye-opener.

In 2003, here’s the top 10 recruits for the entire country:

1) Kyle Wright – QB – Miami
2) Ernie Sims – LB – Florida State
3) Reggie Bush – RB – USC
4) Tony Hills JR – TE – Texas
5) JaMarcus Russell – QB – LSU
6) Whitney Lewis – WR – USC
7) Prescott Burgess – DB – Michigan
8) Nate Robinson – DL – Miami
9) Lamarr Woodley – LB – Michigan
10) Antonio Cromartie – DB – Florida State

Hit and miss, to say the least. Half the list has panned out and made it to the NFL (Bush, Sims, Russell and Cromartie were all first-round picks, while Woodley was a second-rounder). But that is only half of the top ten. What about the others?

#1 QB Kyle Wright was OK. He went 18-11 as a starter, but just 4-4 his senior year as the ‘Canes missed a bowl with a 5-7 record in 2007. He finished #7 on Miami’s all-time passing yardage list. But he only earned all-ACC honors once, and that was just honorable mention as a sophomore in 2005. Not bad overall. But clearly everyone expected more from the NUMBER ONE player in the country??

#4 Tony Hills Jr was derailed by a knee injury his senior year in high school that zapped him of his explosiveness. He was switched to the offensive line but didn’t start until his junior year. He did pan out there, getting first-team All Big 12 his senior year, but to be the #4 player in the country coming in, he has to rank as mildly disappointing.

#6 Whitney Lewis has to be one of the most disappointing of the list, if not the entire 2003 class. The number six player in the country, and the number one WR in the country, he NEVER CAUGHT A PASS in two years at USC.

He did letter in his true frosh year of 2003, but then had grade issues and missed 2004. He was a deep reserve in 2005 and then transferred to Northern Iowa, where he had 578 yards of total offense in two seasons.

Finally, Robinson never enrolled at Miami, instead heading to Rutgers after failing to meet entrance requirements. He had a rocky time there, kicked off the team for a violation of team rules. He landed at Akron and finished as a part-time starter, recording just two sacks his senior year. Burgess had a solid career at Michigan, but never earned first or second team All-Big 10 honors. He was moved to linebacker and started for his last two years, racking up 171 career tackles. But as a top-10 player, you would have liked to see a lot more than that.

Our own WSU class from that same 2003 is littered with lower-rated players having an impact, while higher-rated players never panning out.

For example, Jason Hill, arguably the greatest WR in school history and one of the top TD catchers in PAC-10 history was just a two-star safety prospect out of the bay area in 2003. And Alex Brink, the guy who threw for over 10K and owns several WSU passing records? He was a two-star QB coming out, just the #74-rated QB in the country. The same Alex Brink who beat UW three times in his career, the only WSU QB to do so.

Bobby Byrd started on the offensive line for 40+ games in his career, playing every position but center. But in that 2003 class, he was a virtual unknown, a 2-star special who didn’t even get a true evaluation.

In that same 2003 class, the top-rated WSU commits were RB Chris Bruhn, OL Patrick Afif and OL Keola Loo. All three guys JC transfers of the 4-star variety, yet what can be said about any of them? Bruhn was a serviceable backup running back, but never made the impact you would expect from a rating like that. Afif played in 17 games as a JC transfer and was pretty decent, but not an impact player in any way. And Loo never panned out, leaving the team after one season in 2004.

So while it’s exciting and newsworthy in the off-season, well, you just never know how a kid is going to pan out.

That’s it for today. ENJOY YOUR TUESDAY, and as always, GO COUGS!

Who is Your "Must Have" For This Year’s Class?

December 17, 2008

So there has been a lot of recruiting news of late (’tis the season). Of course they are only verbal commitments until they sign on the dotted line, but it is hard not to curb a little enthusiasm? The latest news has coach Wulff landing a commit from a big-play safety in CA of the 3-star variety, who sounds like a solid kid all the way around (check Cougfan for more).

I heard from a source who follows high school football closely in the state, and he was very impressed with what our coaches have done thus far. This source is big into UW, but he has an open mind when evaluating prospects. He had very good things to say about our top commits and still can’t believe it as to how Wulff is doing it coming off a 2-win season.

I think the reality is they are doing a strong job in the living room and with the state’s high school coaches, an underrated aspect of recruiting. They are selling a unified message of a strong, structured system, a good education, a chance to play early at a BCS school and most of all, to be a part of the foundation of the turnaround of the program.

And you can’t forget the journey of Paul Wulff. He has been through some incredibly tough, character-building experiences in his life. Nothing was ever just given to him, and he has had to go out and get everything he has achieved. He is the genuine article, and what you see is what you get. No phony BS or empty promises here. How can a parent or coach not respect the path he has traveled and at least listen to what he has to say?

It’s not a typo or misprint. This class is shaping up to be one of the highest rated in school history.

THAT said, looking at the current commits (and you can see the link on the right to the current commits) plus some other rumored commits on the way (Travis Long of G-Prep?), who do YOU consider your “must have” of this year’s class?

There is Some Good News

June 19, 2008

While we wait for the Seattle Times to bring the heat, we did get some good news last night. Cougfan broke the story that Idaho prep linebacker Darren Markle has cast his lot with Paul Wulff and company, committing to the Cougars. Here’s some highlights of Markle:

  • Rated as the 29th ranked player in the Northwest top-100, ranked as #57 in the West top 150. Also ranks as the #32 middle linebacker prospect in the nation. Had over 100 tackles as a Junior MLB last season. Currently a 3-star talent ranking from Scout. I wonder how long until Chris Fetters of Dawgman fame drops him to a 2-star after this news? Just kidding….sort of.
  • Excellent size for a high-school senior-to-be, 6-1, 230. Not lightning fast with a 4.59 40-time, but still, not bad for a projected future middle linebacker. Strength? Off-The-Charts Ridiculous. From the Scout.com profile:

    Won the 2007 US High School Powerlifting Championships today and broke the National Total Record in the 242-pound weight class that has stood for nine years. He claims a current bench press of 365 pounds and squat lift of 550 pounds.

    US High School Powerlifting champion?? Benches 365 and squats 550?? WOW.

  • ESPN.com had a good write-up of Markle, based on a Scouts, inc. evaluation. If you are too lazy to click the link, check out the content here:

    Markle is good-looking middle linebacker prospect with the great size and physicality sought-after at the position. He possesses prototypical middle linebacker size at the position and should add continue to add another 10 of good bulk to his already impressive thickly-built frame to handle the punishment of playing the middle at the next level. More of a short-range backer showing good initial quickness and burst when filling his middle run gaps. Plays with good pad level and a wide, solid base at the point of attack. Difficult to turn out of the gap when he attacks downhill with square shoulder pads. Shows great strength and power from his hips and upper-body knocking blockers upright while stacking and shedding the cutoff block. Solid tackler flashing good explosion driving through ball carriers. Lacks the hips to mirror quicker skill plays in space but can close quickly on the football with an adequate-to-good burst. However, range is limited outside the tackle box and he flashes plays where he looks a bit stiff in the hips when redirecting and pursuing laterally. Can stack the run but needs to work on slipping under the cutoff and not opening up his whole body for engagement; will be harder to consistently shed bigger offensive linemen at the next level. Shows he can close and blanket his underneath zone but his depth on his drops is inconsistent. Good blitzer with his size and deceptive acceleration in the short area, but he tends to guess gaps at times and diagnosing skills will need some polish. Overall, Markle is a tough, middle run plugger who is valuable to a team at the next level struggling to stop two-back, power running schemes. Could be limited to situational run and short-yardage duties versus wide open spread teams.

Finally, your obligatory Youtube video of Markle.

Pretty impressive. You can see his strength and at times, he appears unblockable. I was also impressed by some of his “closing speed” on a few of those plays. He’s not a burner, but you can see that he not only has a nose for the ball, but he has good football speed if you know what I mean?

And now, some powerlifting highlights.

That, my friends, is MAN strength. Welcome to the family Darren! Excellent “get” coach Wulff. Markle and Meinken are a great start to a class that will be so vital to the future.