In the past 48 hours, Mike Leach has announced to the world that he is now staking a claim in American Samoa. Along with Destiny Vaeao, the two latest commits both hail from the tiny island in the South Pacific. According to CF.C, this time Robert Barber has pledged his allegiances to the Washington State Cougars. Samoan pipeline!
While I obviously talk about staking claims and pipelines in jest, I love the fact that we're attempting to recruit both Samoa and Hawai'i with more enthusiasm than ever before. And no, two kids does not equal pipeline. Let's just clear that up right now. I'm not saying we won't have one eventually with DL coach Joe Salave'a, but let's all take a deep breath and not count our chickens before they hatch.
This video is very short, and it doesn't really show Barber doing anything off the charts. If Scout is to be believed, he's huge (6'3, 290). I think that might be a little inflated, but I think he has the frame to get that big if he's not there already. He's pretty quick for an interior lineman, so that's a definite plus.
I've seen multiple people say Barber is the perfect NT in our new 3-4, but I'm not sure I agree. Just because the guy is new and huge doesn't necessarily peg him as the next Vince Wilfork. The problem with both Vaeao and Barber is that they're both extremely raw. Vaeao is going to be playing defense full time for the first time in his career, and he'll need to adjust his mindset accordingly. Barber looked all of 250 lbs. in this video, even though it has him listed at 275. Maybe that's because every kid in Samoa is just that big. Maybe that's because they exaggerated his weight. Maybe that's because it's only tape from his junior year. I'm not really sure.
What I can tell you is, when compared to former commit Maurice Bennett, Barber gets blown out of the water in almost every way imaginable. I think that's a silly way to evaluate a player, because not only are they playing against different competition, but they also play in different schemes. However, I simply don't understand blind optimism. Welcoming a new recruit to the Cougar family and hoping he does well is absolutely the right thing to do. I'm on board with this 100%. I'm not ok with posting my evaluation and saying "WOO! LOVE THIS PICK UP! PIPELINE!", though.
Now, before everyone loses their minds and I get destroyed in the comments for being too negative, realize that all I'm going off of right now is that video you see above. It's a two minute and twenty-three second highlight tape. That's it. The kid wasn't offered by any other schools, and before yesterday, Scout and Rivals didn't even have him in their databases. The "well he plays halfway across the world" excuse doesn't fly because Vaeao is from the same city and had eight FBS offers (six of which were BCS schools).
I don't hate Barber, nor do I dislike getting him to commit. He's certainly an interesting prospect, and I'd rather take a chance on a guy like him than a 175 pound LB. I think eventually, Barber can be a solid player for the Cougs. Three or four years down the line, I believe he can contribute in a meaningful way. I'm not sure he'll ever be a starter, but it's important to get guys who are good depth, too. Having backups who push the starters and can step in during injuries is always a great thing. I love the fact that we're putting an emphasis on big guys as well as making sure to recruit the Islands, but I just want to make sure we're all adjusting our expectations.