Cougars welcome 10 new football players during early signing period

Tight end Andre Dollar, safety Sam Lockett III highlight early signing class

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COLE QUINN

The WSU football team prepares to take the field before the Apple Cup, Nov. 26, 2021, at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

TOM ABBOTT, Evergreen reporter

WSU football bolstered their roster this week, with 10 athletes signing letters of intent during the early signing period. 

The future of WSU football may look quite a bit different from the WSU of the past. Why? Well, WSU now has a tight end. That’s right, a tight end will be calling the Palouse home.

Andre Dollar (TE)

Dollar tops the list of recruits coming to WSU, ranked No. 480 in the country. Not only is Dollar the highest ranked recruit, he is also the first tight end to come to WSU in over a decade. The three-star recruit chose WSU after a visit with the Oregon Ducks amidst the departure of head coach Mario Cristobal. Dollar then tweeted his commitment to WSU saying, “I am committed to be the TE at Washington State University!” 

In his senior year highlights, Dollar showcased his athleticism, able to efficiently run routes as well as blocking defenders on runs. The 6-foot-6, 230-pounder is arguably the most exciting WSU commit of the year. If Dollar can put on some more muscle in the weight room ahead of his freshman season, he will be a great asset for the Cougs.

Sam Lockett III (S)

Lockett comes to Pullman after a great junior college season at City College of San Francisco, the same school Anthony Gordon transferred in from. Originally from Spokane and former teammates with WSU’s Armani Marsh at Gonzaga Prep, Lockett has fine-tuned his game while in junior college. 

This year, Lockett helped guide City College of San Francisco to a perfect 13-0 season, finishing the season as the Dirty 30 National Champions. Lockett is ranked at the No. 9 junior college safety in the country according to 247sports.com.

Taariq Al-Uqdah (LB)

Al-Uqdah is a longtime unofficial recruit, first showing his verbal commitment to WSU in February of 2020. He is a great pickup for the linebacker position, especially with Jahad Woods graduating this year. Al-Uqdah was selected to play in the All-American Bowl after his great senior season. 

The linebacker is a South Central LA native and played youth football in the Snoop league. Al-Uqdah’s high school success ranks him as the No. 17 inside linebacker in the nation according to ESPN.com. 

“He’s an All-American and the best thing about Buddha [Al-Uqdah] is his personality,” Dickert said. “He’s a physical presence that gets downhill and he’s a guy I think we can plug into our defense really early in his career.”

Djouvensky Schlenbaker (RB)

Schlenbaker is the highest ranked in-state recruit coming to WSU in 2022. The Bellingham native is the No. 16 ranked running back in the state of Washington according to 247Sports.com. Schlenbaker has some big shoes to fill at the running back position with the departure of running backs Max Borghi and Deon McIntosh. Schlenbaker will likely split plays with fellow running back Nakia Watson. 

Eric Wilder (OT)

Wilder is one of the recruits I am most excited about. His agility and explosiveness off snaps is something the Cougars offensive line can benefit from greatly. Wilder has fast hands, efficient footwork and a high football IQ, recognizing blitzes and chipping defensive tackles when needed. 

His high school highlights reveal his confidence on the line, bullying defensive ends and providing protection for the quarterback. The 6-foot-5 Utah native chose WSU over offers from Cal, Boise State and UNLV. WSU head coach Jake Dickert prioritized Wilder during the recruitment process, traveling to Utah for an in-house visit to secure Wilder’s commitment to WSU. 

“6-5, 280 pounds, so exactly the way we want him on the edge and we’re going to keep growing Eric for a long time to come,” Dickert said. 

Javan Robinson (CB)

Robinson is an agile cornerback and a great pickup for the WSU defensive backfield. Robinson is a great defender and covers receivers well through traffic. The three-star recruit hails from Winter Garden, Florida, where he put up great high school stats at West Orange High School. Robinson verbally committed to WSU just two days after an official visit in October.

Hudson Cedarland (LB)

Cedarland is the second linebacker in WSU’s 2022 recruiting class. He is a Washington native from Gig Harbor. The 6-foot-4 linebacker will likely play snaps alongside fellow 2022 linebacker recruit Al-Uqdah, introduced above. 

Cederland chose WSU over Pac-12 North rival Oregon State. Dickert’s emphasis on in-state recruits seems to be paying off with Cedarland. In my opinion, Cedarland’s name will be heard time and time again over the Martin Stadium intercom throughout his time at WSU.

Jakobus Seth (OL)

Seth is a threat on both sides of the ball. Throughout his high school career, Seth received honors for both his defensive and offensive play. However, he will likely transition to solely playing on the offensive line while at WSU. 

The Arlington resident is one of five in-state recruits coming to WSU in 2022. “He’s a two-way, first-team all-conference performer,” Dickert said. “It’s been really fun for us to see his growth and his development. We’re going to play him at the offensive line.”

Leyton Smithson (S)

Smithson signed with WSU football on December 15 after an official visit on December 10. During his high school career, the safety was an all-around utility player, able to play various positions. During his senior year, Smithson took his talents to the quarterback role and put up solid stats at Squalicum High School. His experience on offense provides him with a great understanding of opposing offensive gameplans. Smithson joins fellow Bellingham recruit and Squalicum teammate Schlenbaker, mentioned above.

Bryce Grays (S)

The Cougs add another asset to the defensive backfield with Grays. The Sugar Land, Texas, recruit is quick to pick up receivers down field and has great intuition reading plays. Grays went on an official visit to WSU in early October. Grays seemed satisfied with the WSU football program after the visit, verbally committing to WSU in mid-November.