The college football recruiting landscape looked to be all squared away in the Pac-12 for the upcoming season, but a late shake-up may strengthen the Washington State Cougars in new head coach Mike Leach‘s first season in Pullman. Former Cal Bear cornerback commit Raymond Ford has failed to become academically eligible for Berkeley and will be heading to his second choice of WSU for the upcoming season.
Ford is a three-star corner prospect who was originally committed to UCLA before Rick Neuheisel was fired, which prompted him to open his recruitment back up to all comers. He had significant interest from a large number of teams, including Nebraska, Washington State, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Arizona State before ultimately choosing Cal as his next destination. The failure to get academically eligible likely has more to do with the rigorous academic demands of Berkeley rather than an academic red flag on Ford, so WSU is happy to welcome him in.
The cornerback is smaller than most coaches would like at just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, but he makes up for it with above average coverage instincts, fluid hips, and long arms that he uses to drape over receivers and break up passes. He’s also shown an incredible backpedal quickness and soft hands which helped him make a number of interceptions last season while covering other teams’ best receivers. He will need to add bulk and strength quickly to stick on the top Pac-12 wideouts, but he has the intangibles that could make him a great defender for the Cougars.
He is a very welcome addition to Pullman, who is in desperate need of an upgrade in their secondary. Last season, the Cougars had nine different corners who made at least 10 tackles, which was more about the coaching staff frantically searching for consistent contributors than a deep talent pool. The Cougars had only one new defensive back signed to come in this season, Brandon Bagley, whose ceiling has been described as “special teams at best,” so adding Ford will help bolster the secondary unit. His raw ability will likely propel him up the depth chart ahead of returning DBs Spencer Waseem and Brandon Golden, making a positive contribution sooner rather than later.
While WSU may not have been Ford’s first choice (or his second really), the Cougars will be relieved to have him. He’ll enter the defensive rotation almost immediately and will be asked to help improve one of the Cougars’ biggest weaknesses from last season.
You can follow me on Twitter @Teeblerone and Rant Sports @RantSports