Top-of-the-line defensive backs don't come around often, and when they do, it is in a team’s best interest to snatch them away from the competition. Marvell Tell, a four-star safety out of Crespi Carmelite High School, is such a player, and Washington State has a chance to recruit him.
Receiving a verbal commitment from Tell, who is listed roughly at 6-foot-2, would be tremendous for the Cougars’ program. While the offensive side of the ball looks like it can hold its own this year, the defense lost two prominent players in the secondary; Deone Bucannon (drafted by the Arizona Cardinals) and Damante Horton are now gone.
Tell is part of the 2015 recruiting class, meaning that if he does commit to the Cougars, he will be joining a team that no longer has Tracy Clark, either. However, by the time Tell joins the team, WSU will have some experience in the defensive secondary with Taylor Taliulu, Daquawn Brown and David Bucannon, who will all be upperclassmen at that point.
If the Cougars can nab Tell away from other Pac-12 schools like UCLA and USC, who are also heavily pursuing the premier safety, they will become even more of a threat for years to come.
While Tell appears ready to step in and play right away, he will also have the option of learning from an experienced bunch. If he shows he can handle immediate playing time, head coach Mike Leach won’t have a problem placing him into a starting role over a veteran of the program. He could even step in and play alongside Taliulu, who had 54 total tackles in 2013 and a forced fumble. He figures to be more involved in the defense in the upcoming year, so he would be a suitable mentor for Tell once he comes in for the 2015 season.
Tell’s ceiling seems high from a statistical standpoint alone. Heading into his senior season at Crespi, Tell had two interceptions and 96 total tackles. In comparison, Deone Bucannon picked off five passes in his high school varsity career, and had three interceptions heading into his senior year. By the time Bucannon was a senior at Washington State, he had intercepted nine passes at the college level, and in his final year, he totaled six interceptions.
With some growth and proper mentoring, Tell could turn out to be just as good statistically as Bucannon was at WSU, which means the Cougars will have a formidable defense in the future.
Tell’s senior season will be important in discovering just how good he is, but if he at least maintains the performance level he has already shown, WSU would be wise to continue pursuing him in hopes of receiving an incredibly valuable verbal commitment from a superior defensive back.