By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Washington State football coach Mike Leach announced a recruiting class of 22 players, led by quarterback Peyton Bender of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Leach said Wednesday that all the new recruits had other scholarship offers and that the Cougars did not have to settle for any players with questionable abilities.
Leach said this was the best class in his three recruiting seasons at Washington State.
"The thing that was important to us was to not settle on any of these guys," Leach said. "We were inclined to keep the scholarship than settle on a guy."
The class had more than a dozen three-star recruits. There were no four- or five-star recruits.
Of the new recruits, a dozen are from California, three are from Washington and two are from Florida.
The Cougars signed five defensive backs, four receivers, four linebackers and three defensive linemen.
Bender, 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, is the 25th-rated pro-style quarterback in the nation. He played for Cardinal Gibbons High School, where he threw for 2,184 yards and 28 touchdowns in 10 games before breaking his collarbone.
Washington State went to its first bowl game in a decade at the end of last season, but Leach said he didn't know if that influenced any recruits to commit.
Among the recruits is 190-pound running back Squally Canada of Milpitas, Calif., who rushed for 1,916 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. "He's very explosive," Leach said.
Offensive lineman Andre Dillard is the son of former WSU offensive lineman Mitch Dillard, Leach said.
"He's tall with huge hands and huge feet," Leach said. "He'll not do anything but get bigger."
Brandon Evers is a 290-pound offensive lineman from Redding, Calif., whom Leach described as "a big wall of offensive lineman."
"I thought we did a good job of getting a combination of size and speed," Leach said. "This is a more polished group than we've had the past two years."
National rankings (Rivals 68, Scout 59)
Best in class: Peyton Bender, QB, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "What I liked best is his best games are ahead of him," Leach said. "He steadily improves."
Best of the rest: Nick Begg, TE, Santa Margarita, Calif.; Squally Canada, RB, Milpitas, Calif.; Calvin Green, WR, Sacramento, Calif.; Deion Singleton, S, Pasco, Wash.
Late addition: "This class had the fewest surprises of any I've been involved in recruiting," Leach said. "This thing was wrapped up by 11 o'clock."
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