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5 Newcomers to Watch for the Washington State Cougars in 2018

Author:
Mike Leach

Mike Leach

A tumultuous offseason for Washington State didn't negatively impact the team's 2018 recruiting class. The Cougars lost their top two receivers and starting quarterback from last season and also saw four assistant coaches depart for jobs elsewhere — including defensive coordinator Alex Grinich. Washington State also had to deal with the tragic suicide of backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski.

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On the field, the rebuilding may be made easier by a strong 2018 class, which 247Sports ranked 39th overall. Rivals designated the Cougars with the 45th-best class in the nation. Washington State hauled in a quartet four-star recruits and some highly talented JUCO prospects who can fill immediate needs on both sides of the ball.

Here's a closer look at five newcomers who are poised to make an immediate impact in 2018:

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Cammon Cooper, QB

Replacing Luke Falk became more complicated with Tyler Hilinsk's passing in January. Filling the void at quarterback may fall on Cooper's shoulders. The four-star recruit has all the tools to run the Air Raid offense with precision and 247Sports ranked Cooper as the 14th-best pro-style quarterback in the nation. He set single-season state records for passing yards (4,726), completions (331) and touchdown passes (58) as a senior at Lehi (Utah) High School and also led his school to its first Class 5A state title. Cooper makes great decisions in the pocket and will likely be an early front-runner to claim the starting job in the spring or fall camp.

Rodrick Fisher, WR

Fisher is exactly the sort of receiver that makes Washington State's offense pile up yards and points at a rapid clip. The 6-foot-2 target stayed in state, signing with the Cougars in December and he possesses oodles of speed. While at Yakima's East Valley High School, Fisher broke the school record in the 100-meter dash, posting a time of 10.43 seconds. He eventually won state track titles in both the 100 and 200 as a junior. His length and size makes him an ideal fit at outside receiver where he can stretch the field. Fisher caught 49 passes for 805 yards and seven touchdowns in nine games as a senior.

Calvin Jackson Jr., WR

Jackson is another speedy and skilled receiver who will fit well with what the Cougars want to do on offense. His father played in the NFL for six seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Jackson signed with Washington State out of Independence (Kan.) College where he totaled 1,030 yards and nine touchdowns on 74 catches over two seasons. The three-star prospect should get plenty of minutes at inside receiver right out of the gate.

RJ Stone, DE

Stone comes in as Washington State's top-rated defensive recruit in the 2018 class. He is the son of former NFL lineman Ron Stone. The three-star recruit from Valley Christian High School out of San Jose, California, has good size (6-4, 215) and is a pure pass rusher. His length and physicality will put him in the mix to play up front right away. Stone also is versatile enough to potentially line up at linebacker or defensive end. Over his final two seasons in high school, he totaled 143 tackles and 20 sacks. He also recovered four fumbles as a senior.

Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei, DE

Aiolupotea-Pei is an intriguing prospect. He's a bit raw, but his upside as a pass rusher is tremendous. The junior has good size (6-3, 260) and could end up at defensive tackle, as he possesses good instincts in getting to the ball. Aiolupotea-Pei is a former rugby player who signed with the Cougars out of Riverside City (Calif.) College. The New Zealand native totaled 41 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season.

— 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.