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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 01/26/2009
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 Rich Rasmussen

Cougar Chats, Copyright 2008, Washington State University Athletics. All rights reserved.

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Chat with football recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach Rich Rasmussen on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at noon.

Moderator: Good afternoon Cougar Football fans and thank you for spending National Letter of Intent Signing Day with us at wsucougars.com. On this very exciting day, we welcome Rich Rasmussen, recruiting coordinator for the Cougar football team to the chat room. For the next hour Rich will answer your questions. Before we begin Rich, would you like to make any opening comments?
Rich Rasmussen: Yes I would. We never could have pulled off signing such a great class without the help of our support staff here: Shawn Deeds, our Director of Football Operations; Jason DiStephano, the Assistant DFO & recruiting assistant; Marie Taylor, our principal assistant; Nicole Early our program assistant, and all of our GA's. Our staff did a great job of sorting through 4,000 prospects in our data base to come up with this great class.

Branden (Hickory,NC): Where is Ferndale's Casey Locker going to play on the field? Will he start against his older cousin, Jake?
Rich Rasmussen: Casey is probably going to need to red-shirt next year in order to get bigger and stronger, but you never know. I'm not sure any of us expected Louis Bland to make the impact he did this season last year on signing day.

Bill Jacobson Los Angeles: It seems we have a lot of gaps to fill in our offense. I would like to know where the emphasis will be on our offense attack, run or pass? If pass who are we looking at as a probable front runner at the helm?
Rich Rasmussen: Spring ball is going to be interesting. We have a few O-linemen coming off some off-season surgeries that we're trying to get ready. Tyson Pencer and Zach Williams both look great and we expect them to make a big impact up front next fall. Marshall Lobbestael is progressing really well following his surgery from last season and we expect he and Kevin Lopina to compete for the starting job. We have to be able to run the ball in-order to take some of the pressure off our QB's. Our goal is always to be as balanced as possible, but we definitely have to be able to run the ball when we want to.

Ed Lynch, Sumner WA: Has WSU recruited in Texas, where there is a wealth of talent waiting to see the field instead of those athletes to going to one of the southern schools and being a backup for 3 or 4 years before being able to start?
Rich Rasmussen: We spot recruited Texas a little bit, but most of our attention was focused in the West. Texas does have some tremendous talent as far as high school football goes. However our chances of beating a lot of the Big 12 schools in a head to head battle over a prospect are very slim due to their proximity compared to ours. Most kids will chose to go where their families can see them play. This is why we focused on the West and within the West Coast television market.

Joel-Spokane: Out of all the incoming freshman which do you think will have the most immediate impact?
Rich Rasmussen: Again, you're just not sure who is going to come in and surprise you early in camp. As of today I'd expect guys like Travis Long, Gino Simone, Darren Markle, Andre Barrington and Nolan Washington to come in and have a chance to compete right away. Johnny Forzani is also a guy we definitely feel has the intangibles necessary to make an impact on the field next season.

Spokane: What are the date(s) for the 2009 summer football camp(s) at WSU and when will the 2009 application for the same be available on line. Thank you. Sue
Rich Rasmussen: Camp dates for this summer are June 24- 27 and information should be available on line in the upcoming weeks. Camp is really important to us as it gives us a great opportunity to evaluate prospects face-to-face. Last year we offered several guys that we had an opportunity to work with in our summer camp.

John - Southern California: What will the DT situation be next fall?
Rich Rasmussen: Josh Luapo is on campus and looks great. He and Bernard Wolfgram (who red-shirted last year) will make a big impact upfront. Jesse Feagin was ineligible from an academic standpoint last year and is having a really good off-season. He's gained a new focus and is determined to help make an impact on this team at defensive end. All the other young guy's we signed a year ago are going to get a ton of reps this spring so we'll see how things shake out.

Chad (Surprise, AZ): Coach Rasmussen, Can you talk about the how easy/difficult it was recruiting kids out of the area this season? Obviously to outsiders who just look at wins and losses, WSU was in a tough position, but I would guess that having an opportunity to play right away and visiting the campus, for those that were lucky enough to do so, would help change some minds. Thanks and best wishes for 2009! Chad
Rich Rasmussen: It was definitely a challenge at times and other schools were attempting to use our record against us. However our staff did a tremendous job of keeping the same message and letting kids know that yes, we are taking our lumps this year, but that is going to change and that is why we are recruiting you. A lot of the guys we received commitments from today saw this as an opportunity to be part of something special and wanted to be part of the foundation as we take Cougar Football back to the top of the Pac-10.

GUS, lakewood ca: Who are the biggest surprises on the list of signees, players heavily recruited.?
Rich Rasmussen: To my knowledge, Anthony Carpenter had offers from Nebraska and Oregon State; Gino Simone was being heavily recruited and had offers from Boise State, Oregon State and Washington. Nolan Washington had offers from Minnesota, Arizona State and Boise State to name a few. Most of the guys we received commitments from had several offers on the table, but in the end being a Cougar was the right decision for them.

CougGrad82: No question here....I just wanted to pass on my congratulations to the entire coaching staff and especially to Recruiting Coordinator, Rich Rasmussen, for all their tireless work out on the recruiting trail! Great job!
Rich Rasmussen: CougGrad82, thanks for the encouragement. This was really a group effort. I can't think of a better group of coaches to work with when it comes to recruiting. A lot of hours were spent away from their families and on the road to come up with this class.

Roger, Kennewick: I only see one defensive lineman, Chris Mastin, Spokane, and he looks light. What's the story on DL's?
Rich Rasmussen: Roger, you can't always go off what you see listed by some other recruiting services. We take a lot of time to evaluate and project where we see guys, not only next year, but two or three years down the line. Some of the guys we are expecting to play up front are Travis Long, Justin Clayton, and Jordan Pu'u Robinson, as well as Chris Mastin. Quayshawne Buckley is another guy who could make the move over to defense based on how things go in fall camp.

KCool (Seattle): Congrats Coach! It's nice to see all the hard work beginning to pay off with these signees. I know you guys like to redshirt as many players as possible within a new class, but who do you think has the best shot at early playing time from this class?
Rich Rasmussen: Thanks KCool. We're really excited about this group and you're right: We'd like to redshirt as many as possible. We want to build this program for the long haul and you can't do that by playing guys before they are ready.

Corey (Selah, WA): Coach, Will some of the guys signed today need to grayshirt? If so, can you say who that may be at this time?
Rich Rasmussen: Corey, we will grayshirt a couple of guys from this class but that is still a topic of discussion. Some of the factors will be our health coming out of spring practice and where a couple of guys are academically.

Rocko(Sammammish): Have your HS coach relationships transfered well to WSU? what are a few strategy differences between how you recruit to WSU vs. Eastern?
Rich Rasmussen: Rocko, not only have we maintained the relationships that we had previously, but we've built on them even more. While at Eastern we tended to focus more on the Northwest region from a recruiting standpoint. Now, obviously, we are looking at the entire West Coast. There are some similarities geographically between WSU and Eastern; however, this is the only traditional college campus in the Pac-10. This is a huge advantage for us when talking with parents. The Pullman and WSU environment provide an extremely safe place for their son to attend school.

M. Briscoe (Portland, OR): Any signees show up real late in the game? Breakout senior season, or open up their recruiting late?
Rich Rasmussen: We didn't have many guys open up late. In fact, most of the guys that signed with us today are guys that we've been on for several months. Jeff Tuel would be a great example. Coach Sturdy did a tremendous amount of homework in evaluating a guy that didn't have an opportunity to start as a junior; however, he was able to see him through spring practice and several summer camps. That gave us the confidence that he was going to be a great player this year. Todd's evaluation came true in that Jeff led his team to the State playoffs.

Nicole (Marysville): What do you think is the key to recruiting for Washington State?
Rich Rasmussen: Nicole, it's the people here. Plain and simple. I don't know that you will find a place in the Pac-10 or any college in the west where the people are genuinely supportive of our student-athletes the way they are here in Pullman.

CrimsonDisciple (Everett,WA): Are all the kids in? Or is there another 1 or two we are waiting on?
Rich Rasmussen: We have a couple that are still out there and I can't comment until they come in.

Jeff (Seattle): Tell us a little about the 2 running backs, Carl Winston and Arthur Burns
Rich Rasmussen: Both are extremely talented and bring something different to the table. Burns is bigger and is a very physical runner. Winston is extremely quick and has great feet.

Joe - Seattle: Good Work Coach!! How has WSU's facilities played into the recruiting battles with other schools? Is that an issue that is winning/losing recruits, and how do you see changes to facilities playing a role in recruiting in years to come?
Rich Rasmussen: Joe, great question. Facilities continue to become an arms race. Although it's not the main reason why kids should be choosing the place they choose to go, it does have an impact. We are so excited that we already have some facility renovations completed and are moving forward with the planned renovations for Martin Stadium. It's also on the docket for us to completely renovate our locker room, which will be a tremendous asset for us.

Luke (Seattle): Coach, first off congrats on all the hard work and putting together a great class! Can you comment on the Seattle media's spin that this was a "down" year for in-state recruiting. I obviously disagree, interested in your take on it.
Rich Rasmussen: There may not have been as many in quantity of Division I prospects in the State of Washington this year; however, the talent level of the top guys is extremely high. The top 10 kids in the state could play anywhere within our conference, and seven of them have chosen to become Cougars.
Moderator: Okay, time for one more question.

Tom (Richland): Noticed a number of bios showed the GPA for recruits. Was that an area of focus this year?
Rich Rasmussen: Tom, our philosophy in recruiting is to focus on student-athletes that achieve at a high level in the classroom. We can't afford to take too many risks on guys academically. We definitely tended to lean toward guys we were very confident would be NCAA qualifiers and would be able to join us in fall camp on time. Academics is one of the key components we look at in making our evaluations.
Moderator: That's all the time we have. Rich, thank you for joining us today.
Rich Rasmussen: I just want to thank everyone and continue to be patient with us. We are going to get this turned around. Today was a great start. This staff worked tirelessly to come up with seven of the top 50 players in the West. We can't wait to get them here on campus so we can go to work. We've already started on next year's class and expect big things on Feb. 3, 2010.
Moderator: We had a record number of questions submitted so thank you to everyone for your questions. Sorry we could not get to them all. Remember, to get all the information about WSU Athletics, go no further than wsucougars.com, the official website of Cougar Athletics. Please check back to wsucougars.com for future online chats.

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