Dickert continues strong recruitment with three defenders, two more running backs

Underrated recruitment brings WSU quickness and competition



University of Southern California wide reciever Drake London (15) catches a pass while Washington State University defensive back Jaylen Watson (0) attempts to tackle him during the second half of a college football game, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Pullman, WA.

TREVOR JUNT, Evergreen deputy sports editor

WSU has landed 11 commits, 10 being fully committed three-star 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. On Monday, WSU added running back Deago Benson.

This article is a breakdown of the defensive commits and two from the 55th-ranked 2023 class coming to WSU.

Jake Dickert is through-and-through a defensive coach, so it makes sense that he is building a defense in a way that he desires. The defensive recruits will keep on coming in, but so far only three have fully committed.

Smith is a three-star cornerback prospect from El Cerrito High School in El Cerrito, Calif.

Smith is ranked as the 101st best cornerback prospect in the nation and the 91st best overall prospect from California. He was extremely sought-after, receiving 12 offers from Colorado, University of Washington, Arizona, Utah State, San Jose State, Boise State, San Diego State, Nevada, UCLA, Yale, California and WSU.

Smith is a larger-sized cornerback standing at 6 feet 1 inch and weighing 175 pounds. He will be able to stick to the primary X-receiver in plays.

He is capable of jamming the receiver using his length and size. Along with playing good drop coverage, turning into man or zone. Smith has good instincts jumping on the ball. However, being too eager could hurt him on some routes.

Playing wide receiver in high school will also help Smith transition into a D-I cornerback with the knowledge of how routes work and how to read them. Along with the strong hands he developed in fighting for the ball, Smith was able to stick his hips to the receiver running the route because of this background.

Quite honestly, Smith seems a bit underrated in the recruiting landscape. Watching him, he looks like the type of ball he plays can transition onto any defense. It makes sense that he received 12 offers. This could be an absolute steal for WSU with him being only a three-star recruit.

It is easy to see what Dickert sees for the possibilities of Smith’s strength and physicality, eventually being capable of turning into a CB1.

Ruth is a 6-foot-3 195-pound linebacker from Hawthorne High School in Hawthorne, Fla. He is another three-star prospect coming to WSU.

Ruth is ranked as the 81st best linebacker prospect in the nation and the 148th best prospect from Florida.

He received a ton of offers. Offers from Troy, Western Kentucky, UT Martin, Army, Appalachian, Central Michigan, Iowa State, Jackson State, Delaware, Coastal Carolina, USF, Vanderbilt, Georgia State, Florida A&M, Navy, FAU, Tulane, Alcorn, Middle Tennessee and Marshall before committing to WSU.

Ruth got the honor of receiving the Gainesville Sun small school all-area Defensive Player of the Year. He had 102 tackles, 17 sacks, forced four fumbles and recovered six fumbles.

He works as an outside linebacker or a defensive end. He has shown that he can rush the passer standing or on all fours.

Ruth is extremely quick off the line and uses his speed to take down the quarterback. He also has a high motor which provides him to opportunity to pursue and catch quarterbacks in and out of the pocket and running backs. Ruth is an exciting player to watch shedding blocks with ease and getting into the pocket swiftly.

He will have to gain a significant amount of weight to keep production like what he did in high school up. The tackles in D-I are much stronger and quicker than the competition he’s faced so far.

Ruth’s height is good, but he might have to gain 25-30 pounds to truly compete at his best. Yes, he is fast but strength will need to be gained. This is totally possible on a D-I football team with team doctors and nutritionists that can help him compete.

In high school, Ruth has been very impressive. If he is able to add more strength to his game WSU could have a successor to star pass-rusher RJ Stone.

Faavae is a three-star linebacker prospect from Fountain-Fort Carson High School. He is from Fountain, Colorado.

Faavae is 6 feet and weighs 210 pounds. He is the 144th-ranked linebacker prospect in the nation and the 13th best from Colorado.

He received offers from Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, New Mexico, Colorado State, Hawaii, Fresno State, Idaho, UNLV and WSU.

He plays primarily at the inside linebacker spot and recorded 126 tackles, one sack, one interception and one touchdown.

Faavae is an instinctual player. He is able to read what the offense is going to do pre-snap and act on it immediately. He is quick and is explosive through his tackles resulting in some pretty crushing hits.

He is a little undersized at his position of inside linebacker but he is a similar player to former Georgia linebacker and current New England Patriot Nakobe Dean. He plays sideline-to-sideline and uses his quickness and situational awareness to his advantage.

Dickert is recruiting physical and smart players. Faavae hits both of these marks and will fit well into a Dickert-built defense.

Leckner is marked as an athlete on his recruiting pages. He is not committed to one position, playing mostly at running back but also at wide receiver and defensive end.

Leckner is coming from Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish, Wash. He is 6 feet 2 inches and weighs 215 pounds. He is a three-star prospect as the 102nd best athlete prospect in the nation and the 16th best in Washington.

He received offers from Nevada, Oregon State, Utah State, Army, Colorado State, UW and WSU.

Leckner is shown that he can play a variety of positions, but he will come to WSU to play running back. He has the talent and the stats that say so, 157 carries for 1,134 rushing yards with 18 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 20 balls, mostly out of the backfield, for 416 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns. This is a total of 1,550 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Leckner saw that WSU gave so much success to former running back Max Borghi. I think this is what convinced him to come to WSU.

He has the size of a good running back, he also has the strength to break tackles and the break-away speed to get rid of good angles by safeties. He also is a receiving threat out of the backfield.

Leckner has the ability to come to WSU and be successful as a running back.

Benson is a running back prospect from Midlothian High School. He is from Midlothian, Tex.

Benson is yet to receive any stars but has racked up plenty of offers. Offers from Northern Arizona, Incarnate Word, Sam Houston, Navy Midshipmen, Arkansas State, Tulsa, New Mexico State, Morgan State, Boise State and WSU.

He is about as pure of a runner as  you can be, not catching the ball much and mostly just running between the tackles. He was able to gain 1173 yards and 14 touchdowns on 204 rushes. Also 34 yards on three receptions.

Benson is 6 feet 1 inch and weighs 200 pounds. Most of the time he looks like the best athlete on the field, grabbing the handoff and exploding through the line, and then outrunning the corners and safeties.

If he gets ranked I would expect Benson to receive two or three stars, he is a valuable pure runner for any team. The explosiveness off the line is impressive and it is what really stood out to me. Also being able to run through some linebackers and corners.

Benson could eventually be a solid running back for WSU, maybe a Borghi/Deon McIntosh type situation. Not exactly the starting running back but a solid back-up and essential second punch in one-two punch arrangement.

Building a college football team is especially hard given the variance in high school competition. But with the additions to the defense and the other offensive recruits, it seems like Dickert and his recruiting staff are building themselves up to be a competitive team.