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Washington State Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Cougars

Washington State Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Cougars

Washington State Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Cougars

Fresh off Mike Leach's most successful season in Pullman to date, Washington State didn't set the world on fire with its latest recruiting class. The Cougars ranked 11th among 12 Pac-12 teams with their 2019 signing class. That means little for a program that's enjoyed a huge run of success over the past four seasons and shows no signs of slowing down.

Leach recruits players who fit a particular system. Once again, he has loads of three-star talent that can come in and plug in the holes where needed. Combine that with a wealth of returning experience and you have a Washington State team set up to remain one of the top Pac-12 teams again in 2019.

Here's a closer look at several newcomers who could play roles in furthering success for the Cougars this fall:

Jamir Thomas, RB

With James Williams forfeiting his final season to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, there's definitely an opening for Thomas to step in and make an immediate impact in the backfield. Max Borghi is the lone proven running back returning for the Cougars. Thomas, who chose Washington State over 10 other Power 5 schools, has the tools to succeed in the Air Raid. Thomas had a 2,000-yard rushing season during his final year at Washington (Ohio) High School that included 24 rushing touchdowns. With a 6-foot-1, 215-pound frame and experience playing at linebacker, he could be a bruiser in the backfield.

Derrick Langford, CB

Langford, a junior college transfer, injects some much needed size into the defensive backfield. At 6-foot-2, he has the size and the length go toe-to-toe with taller receivers that gave Washington State's height-challenged cornerbacks some problems last season. During his lone season at the City College of San Francisco, the sophomore totaled 30 tackles, four pass breakups, and one interception. Langford, a three-star prospect, was rated the No. 14 junior college cornerback nationally by 247Sports.

Billy Pospisil, WR

There's no shortage of returning receivers for Washington State. That doesn't mean Pospisil won't earn a chance to get in the rotation this fall. At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Pospisil is a natural fit as a slot receiver. He has the tools to make an impact at that position both this season and in the future. Pospisil left Pomona (Colo.) High School as the school's career leader in receiving yards. His senior season was shortened by a shoulder injury, but he still tallied 551 receiving yards in just seven games.

Nicholas Sheetz, DE

Washington State traveled to the other side of the country to nab this edge rusher. Sheetz was a lightly recruited three-star prospect out of Emerald (S.C.) High School who came into the picture after earlier defensive commits Nassir Sims and Dejon Benton chose to sign elsewhere. Sheetz may end up being a diamond in the rough. He tallied 52 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, four sacks, and six pass breakups as a senior. Sheetz has an explosive first step off the line and consistently puts pressure on the quarterback.

Gage Gubrud, QB

Going with a graduate transfer at quarterback worked well for Washington State last season, so Leach is traveling that route again in 2019. Gubrud won an extra year of eligibility after playing in only five games with FCS member Eastern Washington a year ago because of a toe injury. The senior has the tools to be an instant success with this offense. He threw for 9,984 yards, and 87 touchdowns with 32 interceptions over four seasons with the Eagles. Gubrud's best season came in 2016 when he threw for an FCS single-reason-record 5,160 yards and won FCS Player of the Year honors.

— 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.