WSU football recruits six offensive players in class of 2023

Three linemen, two wide receivers, and a quarterback commit to WSU, bring talent, competition to team



The WSU football team huddles up after the 2022 Spring Game, April 23, at Martin Stadium.

TREVOR JUNT, Evergreen deputy sports editor

WSU has landed ten hard three-star committed recruits to the 2023 class.

The future WSU football players consist of quarterback Sam Leavitt, tackle Noah Dunham, cornerback Warren Smith, linebacker Jailen Ruth, marked “athlete” Trey Leckner, wide receiver Brandon Hills, tackle Nathan Pritchard, tackle Ashton Tripp, wide receiver Carlos Hernandez and linebacker Tai Faavae.

This article is a breakdown of the offensive commits from the 56th-ranked 2023 class coming to WSU.  

Sam Leavitt is a 6-foot-1, 185-pound quarterback coming out of West Linn, Ore. He is known as a dual-threat quarterback able to make plays with his arm and his legs. He will graduate from West Linn high school in 2023.

Leavitt is ranked as a three-star prospect and is the 41st best quarterback prospect in the nation ranking as the third-best in Oregon. Leavitt received interest from Oregon State and BYU, along with offers from Florida State and Arizona but on July 2, he chose WSU and picked up his offer.

The quarterback situation has changed tremendously for WSU with Cam Ward transferring from Incarnate Word. If Ward dominates in the FBS, he could try to transfer to an SEC school or enter the NFL draft. Ward could also play another year at WSU which would be Leavitt’s true freshman year in 2023.

Leavitt could use that year as a redshirt year or if Ward is gone, he could try and compete for the starting job as a true freshman. Leavitt has the talent that earned him his status as a three-star prospect with mobile skills and a strong arm, being able to throw the ball 60 yards with ease. He will just have to convince the coaching staff that he is ready to be WSU’s QB1.

Noah Dunham is a tackle prospect coming from Yuba City, Calif. Dunham is a three-star prospect ranked as the 84th best tackle prospect in the nation.

He is 6-foot-5 and weighs 275 pounds. Dunham drew 10 offers from different schools, including WSU. He received an offer from Fresno State, Nevada, Wyoming, San Diego State, Massachusetts, Arizona, Utah State, New Mexico, UC Davis and WSU.

Dunham’s tape proves he was absolutely dominant in high school. He is a mauler, who loves to be on the run when he blocks whether it is pulling or moving to the second level it seems like taking out a linebacker is one of Dunham’s biggest joys. He is also a very violent blocker, being so big he was able to overpower the smaller players and pancake them.

Dunham will have to learn how to transition against better competition in Division-I football. He will come in as a right tackle prospect who will try to compete for the job that current Seattle Seahawks player Abraham Lucas held for so long with WSU. Dunham can compete for the job his true freshman year and it will be a competition to monitor in 2023.

Brandon Hills is a wide receiver prospect from Colorado Springs, Colo. He is a three-star prospect as the 162nd-best wide receiver in the nation and eighth-best from Colorado.

Hills is not a big receiver, only being 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds going into his senior year at Vista Ridge high school. However, his speed and athleticism more than make up for his size. He would likely play slot receiver which would be a much better fit for his body size.

He drew interest from Kansas State, Colorado and Colorado State but only received offers from Northern Arizona and WSU.

Quick does not define Hills, blazing fast might be the words that I use. Straight track speed for Hills is out of this world. Running the 100-meter in 10.77 seconds and placing sixth in the Colorado State Track and Field Championships. He placed fourth in the 200-meter at 21.96 seconds and first in the long jump at 23.2 feet.

Hills will come into WSU as a special teams ace, taking many punts back for touchdowns in high school and will most likely take the reins as a kick returner. He is also a blazer who will burn cornerbacks and will be a deep threat aiding the Cougs offense. Someone with Hill’s speed can open up a whole new playbook for a team and WSU will likely try to unleash that potential.

Nathan Pritchard is another tackle prospect committing to WSU. He is 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds from Auburn, Wash.

Pritchard is ranked as the 105th-best tackle prospect in the nation and is the 18th-best tackle prospect from Washington. He will graduate from Auburn Riverside high school in the spring of 2023.

He collected eight different offers from Nevada, Colorado State, Utah State, WSU, San Diego State, Eastern Washington, Idaho and Boise State. He committed to WSU in April.

It is hard to evaluate some high schoolers, that is why the recruitment job is so hard for many schools. Sometimes players overpower other 16, 17 or 18-year-old players with their sheer strength and size.

Pritchard was blessed with size at a young age, not being 18 yet and standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing 285 pounds.

Speed is a factor when evaluating Pritchard. When I was able to watch some of his plays, I did not see the speed needed to compete well in D-I football. He was not very fast getting to his spots and lacked the quickness to get ahead on his blocks. The fact he is a large man is not enough to play at an elite level.

If he is able to add more speed to his game or become quicker to beating players to his spots he needs to get to, Pritchard can be a good tackle for WSU.

Ashton Tripp is the third tackle prospect that committed to WSU. He is from Kennewick, Wash. He is a three-star prospect going into his senior year at Kennewick high school.

Tripp is ranked as the 116th-best tackle prospect in the nation and 22nd in Washington. He stands at 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds. He received interest from UW, Montana State, Eastern Washington and Boise State but only received an offer from WSU.

Tripp is another physical prospect that has the potential to be good if he learns to use his size right or can pick up speed. When I watched his tape, it looked like a struggle for him to maintain a block or pick up speed.

He is a tackle prospect that fits much better as a guard. Size and strength will get him furthest in his career at WSU. Tripp, like the other commit, Pritchard fed on his size but lacked quickness and speed. Also, he lacked the hunger or tenacity to want to destroy the guy across from him.

If the offense slides him in at guard and tells him just to attack and maul, he could be successful. Angry blocking can be taught and Tripp could eventually be valuable at guard.

Carlos Hernandez is a three-star wide receiver prospect. He is coming from Monrovia high school in Monrovia, Calif.

He is ranked as the 166th wide receiver in the nation and the 105th in California. Hernandez is 6-foot and 170 pounds. He received offers from Northern Arizona, Fresno State, Nevada, UNLV, Oregon State and WSU.

Hernandez has shown to be impressive as a ball carrier with a rare combination of elusiveness and strength. He is a catch and run receiver that WSU would be glad to add to their offense.

Hernandez finished his junior season with 71 receptions, 23 touchdowns, and 1,594 receiving yards-which is the second most in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section (almost 600 schools).

Competing in a jam-packed wide receiver room, Hernandez has shown his talent can get him far but his work will have to impress the coaching staff to get him involved as soon as possible.

With these six recruits, WSU is well on its way to building a competitive offense ready to compete wherever WSU ends up after 2023.