Archive for the ‘Geoff Meinken’ Category

Wednesday Ramblings

December 10, 2008

Good morning Coug Nation. Time to catch up on a few things.

First things first, in the bad news department. Late last night, Cougfan broke the news that top WSU commit Geoff Meinken had made it official. He is no longer going to be a Cougar, and has officially switched to Stanford.

Disappointing? Absolutely. Meinken, after all, was the first WSU commit for this year’s class, giving coach Wulff his pledge back in May, and he was considered an excellent “get” by the staff. Big and strong at 6-4, 250, and a fine all-around athlete who was just as strong in the classroom, the sky was the limit for this kid at WSU. There was also a story that UW came hard at him last summer, but Meinken held firm on his WSU commitment.

But Jim Harbaugh came hard after Meinken this fall, offering him a scholarship and even promising him he can play anywhere he wants. Harbaugh is a lot of things, but he is showing in very limited time at Stanford that the guy can flat-out recruit. Don’t believe it? Check out their commitment list for this year. They have TEN four-star recruits already pledging to Stanford. And right now, they are second only to USC in the Pac-10 in recruiting rankings, and on target for a top-15 class. Impressive to say the least. I know I said it in the spring when we did the fishwrap series, but Stanford’s stay at the bottom didn’t appear like it would last very long. To go from where they were two years ago to where they are now, just one win from a bowl game, shows you they are on the right track.

Is this surprising? Hardly. First off you can’t blame a kid for changing his mind. It happens all the time, to programs all over the country. And he is going to try and get his degree at Stanford. Not a bad way to go about higher education if you can get it. So yes, we’re disappointed, but this isn’t a shock.

The next bit of recruiting news is dealing with Skyline WR Gino Simone. Last month Simone announced that while he was still committed to WSU, well, he sat down with his family and decided to take some recruiting trips, just to be sure. Simone is taking his official visit to WSU this weekend, and the following week he will visit Oregon State (12/19). He is also on record as saying he will take a trip to Boise State, but the date hasn’t been announced.

Meanwhile, Steve Sarkisian is already out there recruiting for UW, visiting Skyline high school and Bellevue high school yesterday. Both Simone and Skyline QB Jake Heaps gave some good praise to UW for hiring Sarkisian, and Simone himself was quoted as saying “If he wants to talk to me, I’ll be glad to sit down and have a talk with him.”

Obviously this doesn’t mean Simone is going to UW, or that there is now automatically going to be a pipeline from Skyline to UW. After all, UW did just fire former Skyline head coach Steve Gervais yesterday, long thought of as a guy they brought on board to help recruit the Skyline talent! Sarkisian still has to sell them on an 0-12 rebuilding job. And while he had a “solid” reputation as a recruiter in the LA area, well, that was while he was dressed in USC colors from head to toe, and had Petey Carroll to close the deal. Let’s see how he’s received when he walks into a living room with a UW visor on his melon. He might find it just a little bit of a tougher sell?? So assume nothing.

Most of all, this whole recruiting thing is just another example of don’t count those chicks before they sign on the dotted line. Anything/everything can happen. And you get this kind of thing more and more when you get the early verbal commitments. That was one thing we know Bill Doba despised, to say the least. He HATED the early commit, felt that it was too “en vogue” to de-commit, and that type of thing went against every moral fiber in his body. But when in Rome? All the other schools are doing it, and if you don’t as well, you are at risk at being left in the stone age. You HAVE to do the early commits, or else you are left to trying to steal kids from other programs or take kids that are a step or two below the ones you really should have targeted from the beginning!

Don’t panic. Let’s hope Wulff can hold this class together. It’s still an excellent class right now, smack dab in the middle of the conference, just behind Cal in the Pac-10 rankings. And that is without Geoff Meinken. And the idea that we can even have a decent class, in this worst-ever season? Just imagine what it could look like once we start, oh, I don’t know, WINNING games!?!?

Finally, the stadium. I hate to say it, but we heard rumblings during Apple Cup week that the next phase was in serious jeopardy. Now we hear that it is official and the start of the next phase of the expansion will be delayed for another year. They cannot break ground next month due to the lack of cash ($5 million?). The unfortunate part is that not only does it delay the biggest part of the overall expansion, this delay will likely add to the overall cost of the project. So we might need even MORE money over the next year.

Look, we’re not stupid. We read the news and watch CNN. We know what is going on in this country right now. 534,000 jobs were cut in America in NOVEMBER alone. It’s hard to get money from donors, but even just as tough is going to the financial institutions who are cutting jobs left and right. Even selling the naming rights to different organizations wasn’t enough of an incentive to get the cash needed. Meanwhile UW continues to pursue their cash grab, somehow determining that the public should give them $150 million toward their $300 million dollar palace by the lake.

Whatever happens with Olympia and UW, you better believe that if they get as much as a nickel from the state, a WSU contingent with torches and pitchforks will storm the Governor’s mansion. It could get REALLY UGLY down there.

Isn’t there a basketball game tonight??


Saturday Flag-Spotting; WSU Verbal Meinken Shaky?

October 4, 2008

Another Gameday, another appearance. Great job as usual, and the tradition lives on for another week. Even in the darkest of times, this WSU flag continues to still get out of bed and show up for work. And thanks again to Will and Stephanie Walker for the screen capture. BRAVO!

I don’t want to just throw a bunch of links out there, as we’ve kind of shied away from doing that of late. But there is a bit of a disturbing story about one of WSU’s top verbal commits, Geoff Meinken. We were dancing in the aisle after Meinken committed to WSU back in May. Meinken is an excellent athlete out of Lynnwood, a 6-4, 255 pounder who is big, strong and fast already as a 17-year old. There was a good profile of him in the Seattle Times here back in early September. We wrote about his commitment here, as there were some interesting nuggets about him in regards to track and basketball as well as football. He looks like a real player on the rise, and along with the classroom smarts, is exactly the kind of in-state talent that Wulff and company are counting on to rebuild this program.

But there is a distrubring thing here. Jim Harbaugh has come out of the woodwork and offered the kid a full ride (damn it Jim!). As Cougfan points out, they are basically saying “name your position” as well, telling him he can play anywhere he wants, and oh yeah, at the end of the process he’ll earn his degree from Stanford. Yikes.

While Meinken is still listed as a verbal commitment, well, that could change. While I won’t highlight anything in the story as it’s a premium article, you can read between the lines when it says Lynnwood athlete who gave oral pledge to WSU earlier this spring says he has some thinking to do”.

That’s the kicker about verbal commitments. For that is all they are, a non-binding pledge that they will sign with you in February, but this kind of thing happens every year, to almost every program. It just happened to UW, when the top in-state player, Garfield’s Deandre Coleman, backed off UW and is now out flirting with Cal. It happened to Bill Doba too, with players such as ASU defensive end Luis Vazquez. He de-committed from WSU and hopped down to ASU when Dennis Erickson was hired, AND Rob Akey went to Idaho.

But that’s only a recent example. Heck, Michael Bumpus was a 100% verbal to USC all the way until the last weekend before signing day, when New Jersey phenom Dwayne Jarrett fell into Pete Carroll’s lap. Carroll decided to give Bump’s scholie to Jarrett while asking Bump to delay his enrollment until January, Bump said no, and suddenly he was a signing day surprise for WSU.

The other issue is the whole recruiting process itself. This is the time of year when the coaches heap praise upon praise on these high school hotshots. And like many 17/18-year olds, a lot of them slurp it up. For it’s easy as a human being to start to believe it when everyone, including NCAA football coaches, keep telling you how great you are. It’s not hard to think you are a REALLY big deal.

I also used to think that the whole horrible start that this team was off to wasn’t going to have that much of an effect on recruiting. Wulff himself has said on his radio show that fans are often surprised when they hear quotes from commits who say that it doesn’t matter a whole lot what the current team is doing on the field. Often times the recruit is more worried about playing, and playing early, when they make that step to the next level. And uh, yeah, playing early at WSU? Pretty much WIDE OPEN at this point! If you are young and you are good, you will get a chance to play, and that is the message Wulff and company have been sending out on the recruiting trail. And, while we got hammered on the recruiting trail last year (when the coaches were actually out there recruiting?), it was because of all the Doba speculation. The other coaches like Harbaugh can’t use the instability argument against WSU now, because Wulff isn’t going anywhere.

But given the monster losses of all-time proportions this year, well, I’m starting to wonder like the rest of you. Watching the team get blown out on TV, week after week, might have more of a detrimental effect on these recruits than we might think. Embarrassing performances on the field can lead to embarrassing feelings off the field for fans, alums and even perspective recruits, so, who knows.

We’ll see how it all shakes out. Meinken is a projected defensive lineman, exactly the kind of kid Wulff is after in terms of size, strength and frame, with the “right kind of weight” on his body for his age. Clearly he sees something he can build here, and losing him could really sting. Besides, Meinken is a defensive lineman, an area of severe weakness today, but could be even weaker next year. The door is wide open for an impact talent up front, and losing Meinken from the group could be bad news. That said, there is still a long way to go in recruiting, and Wulff has said repeatedly that the defensive line is the top priority for this year’s class. They are out there busting their asses in trying to land talent, and I don’t doubt that they will fill this potential hole. My hope right now is that if Meinken does back away, that this isn’t the start of a trend? So far it’s a solid class, so think good thoughts for Wulff and company to keep it together and ride this thing out.

We’ll be back this evening with a game thread before the 7:15 kickoff, so, if you are watching and want to vent, feel free to stop by. GO COUGS!

Wulff Radio Show Recap, Plus Links

September 3, 2008

A different feel/tone to this week’s radio show, so, we’ll get right to it in a condensed version:

  • Wulff said things still felt new after the first game, and there is still so much work ahead. We have one game under our belts, and obviously it didn’t go how we wanted it to, but as always, there was good and bad with week one.
  • Good: the defense. Bad: Offense, in particular the passing game early, and special teams struggled on all the units.
  • Felt that we had serious jitters on offense from some new faces. Also spilled over to kicking and coverage issues. But Wulff also said to look around the nation and you’ll see a lot of teams with special teams issues in week one (Cal blocked punt for TD, Missouri ran back a kickoff for a TD, etc). More on that later.
  • Wulff went out of his way to say how special Martin Stadium can be when it’s packed and it’s loud. All things considered, it is one of the tougher places to play on a visiting team, fans/noise/atmosphere can be a headache. Most of all, we NEED A GOOD CROWD this weekend!
  • Wulff was happy with the Seattle crowd. There were moments when it got pretty loud. But he also said their extremely slow start didn’t really give the fans a reason to make a bunch of noise early.
  • Basically felt that the lack of maturity, youth and inexperience had big reasons to do with the loss.
  • Wulff felt the turning point was the long return for a TD after they cut it to a two-score game in the third quarter. Just like that it was back to a three-TD lead and it was an uphill battle.
  • But Wulff was also frustrated by some of the smaller things. For example, right after we got the INT to start the second half, we get a false-start penalty to start the drive. Also something about a personal foul penalty on Karstetter after a first-down run by Dwight Tardy earlier in the game. Just little things added up as well.
  • A caller asked why so many starters are on special teams? Wulff was clear that he felt the vast majority of special teamers should be backups, but, we just don’t have the depth/talent level to get away with it right now. He said going forward, he wants his backups to be dying to get on the field in any way, shape or form, and he wants kids to be excited to play special teams. He pointed out that it isn’t always an easy thing to sell to kids, to get them excited to play special teams when some of them believe they should be starting. He said it can be a hard, humbling experience for “high school stars” to come in and be on special teams. He also made it clear that in the future, they might recruit a kid with a tick less talent than the next guy, but if the character and heart is there, they want that kind of kid. That will help special teams.
  • Wulff made an example that they are already changing special teams, and Andy Mattingly has been moved to kickoff coverage. He said in practice Tuesday, Mattingly was the first guy down the field. He has the heart and character and wants to play, period. Wulff also said that special teams are difficult to practice. It’s a very violent play, and it is always very hard to simulate in practice vs. what you see in games. That’s why there are so many issues usually around the country in the first few games.
  • Reid Forrest very well could punt this week. He kicked in practice yesterday and looked good.
  • Also another injury good-news department- Jeshua Anderson practiced, albeit on a limited basis. Wulff felt that he’s nearly ready to go, but the doctors haven’t cleared him yet. He then said that the Baylor game looks “very promising” for Anderson’s return. Personally, I say don’t rush it and make sure he doesn’t come back too early….but at the same time….wow, does that position need him right now!
  • Wulff talked about the deep balls and the lack of the ability to stretch the field. He felt the two plays with Gibson were balls that he probably should have had, but, they didn’t work out. He also said that we will go deep more often as the season goes on. Also said that if Rogers ever sees Gibson in “zero coverage”, meaning one-on-one without any apparent safety help, then check into something and go for it down the field.
  • Wulff was overall pleased with the offensive line, but he didn’t exactly gush about their performance. He felt they can play much, much better. Bob pointed out that we likely started one of the youngest, if not THE youngest, offensive line in the country with four underclassmen and junior Kenny Alfred at center. Wulff also pointed out that losing Lesuma for now and also Rowlands hurts. But also not having Joe Epelle hurts the tackle situation. But Wulff talked to Rogers after the game and Rogers felt the line did a good job, and aside from a few shots early, didn’t really get hit too much. Wulff stressed that they will get a lot better up front as the season goes on.
  • He believes that we have our hands full in a major way this week, and that Cal already looks better than OSU. He’s very happy to get them in Pullman, and again asked for crowd support. He cited Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen as two of the fastest backs in the conference, hands down. Also likes the way Kevin Riley handles the QB position. Doesn’t try to do too much, and avoids the huge mistake. Also said that their linebackers are excellent, four seniors with tons of experience. They are really, really physical and this game overall will be extremely physical.
  • Recruiting: Wulff talked about how hard they are working in recruiting right now. They have all types of contacts with high school coaches and are always getting tapes and updates from coaches. Right now, as of 9/1 they can call a recruit once a week. But they are also taking time to send hand-written notes and e-mails to players all the time. Also, the kids have every coaches cell phone numbers and can always call them. Wulff said they are also selling the idea of early playing time to recruits, and while they still have to come in and prove themselves, they will get a chance if they are better than what they’ve already got. Wulff cited that five true frosh will play this Saturday as Louis Bland will get in this week, and that proves that young talent will get the chance to play.
  • Biggest jump in improvement: Wulff said the game one to game two jump can be a little misleading, and he thinks it’s more the first two or three games before you can start to see that improvement. He said health can be a big part of the early improvement, but also who you are playing, where you are playing them, etc, but generally he thinks it’s two-to-three games before you might see a big leap forward.
  • Finally, Wulff was asked about the new clock rules, and the way Okie State handled it. He didn’t feel that the clock rules had much of an impact on what they did, but going forward it could make it tougher to come back late in games. Adding those additional 15 seconds per play could really add up if it’s in the 4th quarter and the other team is running the ball and milking clock. Might see fewer chances to come back. And, if you weren’t at the game Saturday and didn’t see it on TV, Okie State would come to the line of scrimmage in a quick fashion, and get set. Then, the entire team would turn and look at the sideline, and a player would hold up these huge flash cards for some sort of signal to either change the play or stick with what they called. Wulff said our defensive coaches should be commended, because they were ready for it and they did a great job of disguising what we were doing on defense. He said initially we wouldn’t tip our hand in any way what we were going to run. Very much a cat-n-mouse type game. He again praised our defense, and how well they stood up given the situations they were put in. He felt we defended them basically as well as anyone did all of last year, so, it’s a good sign.

Really quick, some other links. Chima Nwachukwu said that people will be surprised by how good we will be this year, and that forecasters are basically wrong.

“People are picking us last and next to last in the Pac-10. That’s definitely not where these coaches expect to be and not where the players expect to be.”

Love the optimism. And not a surprise, really. You would hope he wouldn’t say “gosh, y’all were right about us!” But still, the defense did look better and I don’t think there is much disagreement from anyone who watched the game. Get some more consistent offense, improve the special teams so we can at least keep the field position game under control, keep the defense off the field a little more, and who knows what can happen? But there does seem to be a bit of a swagger on D that wasn’t there before.

In the same article by Howie Stalwick, the injuries were addressed. Andrew Roxas went down with a knee injury in practice, and Wulff said it doesn’t look good in Vince’s early-bird piece today. Yet more shuffling up front. But the good news is that Vaughn Lesuma returned to practice Tuesday, so that could be a huge boost by Saturday.

A good read on WSU recruit Geoff Meinken in today’s Seattle Times. He looks like a real rising player in the state, and set for a huge senior year. We wrote about him before here, as he was the first verbal commit to WSU for the upcoming recruiting class. Smart and incredibly strong, probably the perfect “Paul Wulff” type player that we are trying to get. Let’s hope we can stay on him and get his signature next February!

In national news, there’s a new number one team in the land, and it’s no surprise. But I guess the surprise is that USC actually moved up to number one. It appears that there is more thought being put in to the early voting, as SI’s Stewart Mandel said in the article. Georgia and Ohio State dined on cupcakes on Saturday, while USC went to Virginia and just destroyed. Nice to see some teams getting their due if they earn it.

Finally, what did you think of the Pac-10’s first weekend? The desert schools had layups, but Cal, USC and UCLA all scored good OOC wins. I guess we were the only team that lost an OOC game. I think coming into the year we thought the Pac-10 was going to be down, and many of the preseason rags saw a conference rated third, fourth or even fifth among the BCS schools this year. But maybe we aren’t the weak sister of the BCS this year??

Enjoy your Wednesday, and GO COUGS!

A Verbal in May – Who Knew?

May 30, 2008

We have our first verbal commit for the class of ’09. Yes, clearly this staff gets the whole “recruiting” thing. See, you actually go out and RECRUIT kids, and not wait around to see who’s available in November. OK, that’s a shot at the prior staff. But it is what it is. Remember, Wulff had THREE commits to WSU when he took the job in mid-December last year. So you tell me which approach is the right approach.

Enough of that. Geoff Meinken is a 1-star recruit straight outta Lynnwood who looks pretty interesting. 6-4, 250 and runs a 4.6 as a DE/RB hybrid. Per (and that’s where we RIPPED off the picture above):

Biography: A three-sport standout (football, basketball and track). All-league honorable mention in football in 2007 on defensive line. Also rushed for nearly 700 yards that season from tailback spot. Good frame, good feet. Gained 30 pounds between start of his sophomore year and end of his junior year.

Something called says this:

“Committed to Washington State. He says that he fell in love with the campus and team during his three day visit. ” Cool. From the personal pic to the right, you can see that he was into it.

The Kitsap Sun had a good write-up about him, including some quotes from his high school coach. The amazing thing to me? He’s still JUST 16 YEARS OLD and he’s 6-4, 240 and runs a 4.6-40?? Wow. And he’s strong as an ox too, per the article:

“The potential for him is sky high,” Lynnwood coach Dorian Manza said. “He’s a real young senior. He benches 300 (pounds), dead lifts over 500, squats over 400.”

As noted above, he’s a hoopster and track athlete as well. Here’s a look at some of his track numbers. If you are too lazy to click over, just know that he’s got personal bests of 11.73 in the 100, 24.63 in the 200, 41’2″ in the shot, 16’3″ in the long jump and he ran the second leg of a 4×100 relay team that placed 3rd in the district with a time of 44.68.

In hoops, he played some power forward for Lynnwood. Not a big stats guy, he averaged 5.8 points per game last year, with five games in double figures in scoring. Lynnwood is losing a decent amount of seniors off their current team, so he could have a much bigger scoring season next year.

Still, not bad for a 16-yr old growing into his frame. He put on 30 lbs in one year, what will he look like when he shows up in Pullman next year, after he turns 18? With that kind of size at his age, you can probably forget about him playing RB at the next level. We are probably talking about a quick, 270-lb DE by the time he shows up. And don’t get too down about the 1-star ranking. WE never get caught up in the star ratings around here anyway, but usually you see the 1-stars this early in the recruiting season because they basically haven’t been fully evaluated by the analysts. He has probably flown under the radar for a while. Oregon and UW were on his list, but he said WSU was coming after him the hardest. Best of all, it’s a good fit for the young man. Welcome to the family Geoff!