WSU HC Dickert talks new schedule, future at QB, recruiting class

Dec 20, 2023, 1:04 PM | Updated: 5:52 pm

WSU Cougars Jake Dickert Pac-12...

WSU football coach Jake Dickert during a game against ASU on Nov. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

(AP Photo/Young Kwak)

The WSU Cougars are set to enter some unfamiliar territory next year with 10 of this season’s 12 Pac-12 teams leaving the conference.

On Wednesday, the Cougs got some players that will be on the field during that new-look 2024 season as WSU and other programs across the nation officially welcomed some future pieces as part of early national signing day.

WSU head coach Jake Dickert joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy to talk about the Cougars’ recruiting class and signees and the future of the program.

Next year’s schedule

WSU’s full slate of opponents has been released, and it includes an awful lot of matchups with Mountain West teams thanks to WSU and Oregon State’s partnership with the conference.

WSU opponents for first football schedule after Pac-12 set

“Well, it’s definitely a bridge year,” Dickert said. “We did a good job of finding a bunch of non-conference games obviously (aided by) the partnership with the Mountain West.”

Two big games for WSU are Texas Tech at home and then the Apple Cup against Washington, which is in Seattle but at Lumen Field in September.

“The Apple Cup tradition, to keep that alive I think is very special for all of us. And to do it in Lumen Field, I’m excited about it. It’s something different, it’ll be a really fun atmosphere,” Dickert said.

The Cougars have some tough Mountain West teams that have been at the top of the conference in recent years.

“Boise, Fresno, San Diego State, obviously they’re all good West Coast programs. Those teams have been in the top-25 numerously throughout the last five years,” Dickert said. “So I’m just excited about attacking it one game at a time. And you know me, those games are a long ways away. There’s a lot of work to be had before we get there.”

The future at QB

The Cougars will have a new starting quarterback in 2024 as Cam Ward, who started the last two seasons, is in the transfer portal.

Cameron Ward leaving WSU for either NFL Draft or transfer portal

It’s something Dickert and WSU have been planning for.

“I’ve been well on record of talking about that we’ve always known that Cam wasn’t going to be here next season,” he said. “So we’ve been planning on this for a long time.”

So what are the Cougs’ options at quarterback?

“John Mateer, who Cougs got to see a little bit through some mop-up duty and using him in two-quarterback situations, I think he has that Bo Nix-esque talent. He’s a power thrower, a runner, operates our offense really well,” Dickert said. “(We also have) Jaxon Potter, a young freshman and then a guy we just signed today in Evans Chuba, who’s kind of an Anthony Richardson-type mold at 6 foot 3 and 215 (pounds), can run and throw the ball. And we’re still looking at the portal options (waiting) for it to settle down a little bit to find the right guy to come in and compete.”

WSU’s recruiting class and the transfer portal

The Cougars have signed a ton of high school recruits to this year’s class, and Dickert was excited to talk about that.

“A guy we signed, Kayo Patu …  What a two-way player and a guy that can do a lot of different things,” he said. ” … I just think as a whole, we’re looking for well-rounded athletes. I’m talking about guys that play multiple sports … Xavier Thorpe is a guy that plays four sports … and is an Eagle Scout. I mean, there’s just a lot of things.”

The big theme, Dickert said, was finding dynamic players and athletes.

“And obviously get people that we can be really proud of and guys that share our common core values,” he said. “So that’s been the theme of how we want to recruit and get these guys here … As we’ve gone throughout this journey of kind of different storylines throughout the season, we’ve only lost one of these guys, and that’s big. It says they’re coming here for the right reasons and I’m really proud of that.”

Dickert is proud of WSU’s class in large part because the heavy majority of it are high school players.

“Probably the biggest thing is you can see by what we did here on signing day: You don’t see 20 portal kids. You see 21 high school players – and we’re going to continue to add to that – because we’re going to build a foundation for the future,” he said. “That’s the way I envision the program, and you have to provide stability and see the long-term (vision) in that. And that’s what I’m here for.”

Speaking of the transfer portal, Dickert said that WSU will look to add talent through it, but he doesn’t want that to be how the Cougars build their roster.

“There will always be ways to do it. But we will never build our program (largely through the transfer portal). Not as long as I’m here,” Dickert said. “Let’s find the best high school talent, let’s put them through the process, let’s teach them what it means to be Cougs and why that’s important and get their buy-in really, really high.”

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