Success on the field is breeding success on the recruiting trail for Washington State. The Cougars brought in one of their best recruiting classes under Mike Leach on the most recent national signing day. Washington State's 2017 class was ranked in the top 50 nationally by all three major recruiting services.
The Cougars focused much of their attention on bringing in a new crop of speedy and versatile wide receivers and defensive backs. There are also some promising prospects at other skill positions and along both the offensive line and defensive line.
Here's a closer look at five players new to the program in 2017 who are poised to be rising stars.
Jamire Calvin, WR
Calvin surprised many people when he chose to sign with Washington State after previously committing to Oregon State and then Nebraska. The 5-foot-9 receiver fits the mold of a player built for the air raid offense. Calvin is speedy and shifty in the open field. He caught 86 passes for 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior at Cathedral High (Calif.) and was also one of the nation's top punt returners in high school.
Connor Neville, QB
Luke Falk returning for his senior season was a dose of good news for Washington State's offense heading into 2017. But the cupboard won't be bare once Falk is gone. Neville has the tools to add a dangerous element to Leach's passing attack. The 6-foot-2 quarterback can scramble well when a play breaks down and has a strong arm. His dual-threat potential promises to only give the Cougars even sharper claws down the road. Neville threw for 7,768 yards and 88 touchdowns over three seasons at Willsonville High (Ore.).
Preston Hendry, DE
Moving to the defensive line is the smartest thing Hendry could have done. He played at wide receiver in high school until switching to defensive end as a senior. Since that time, he has evolved into a pass rusher who knows how to torment defenses. Hendry is dangerous off the edge and can disrupt things in a hurry. He tallied 8.5 sacks in two seasons at Orange Coast College (Calf.) and ranked 54th among the JUCO Top 100 in the 2017 class.
Josh Talbott, S
Talbott has all the tools to compete for a starting job in his first season on campus. The 6-foot safety reads routes well and has strong closing speed in coverage. He is also a physical player who can shed blocks and tackle receivers with equal proficiency. Talbott recorded 35 tackles and two interceptions as a senior at Long Beach Poly (Calif.). He chose to sign with the Cougars over Arizona, Colorado, Texas A&M, UCLA, Florida, Oklahoma and Oregon.
Anthony White, Jr., WR
White is another receiver who has all of the right skills to flourish in the Air Raid offense. The 6-foot-1 receiver from Miami Central (Fla.) is a legit four-star prospect who spurned offers from LSU, Cincinnati, South Carolina, Illinois and Kentucky to come to Pullman. White has good field awareness and enough burst to get significant yards after catches on the outside for the Cougars. He was ranked among the Top 100 receivers in the nation by Rivals.
— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.