Cougs' Culver Connection Rekindled

THE CULVER CONNECTION to Washington State football may not be as storied as the old Compton Connection of the 1980s or the Curtis (High) Connection of the 1990s. But it's just as real, and Wednesday when WSU's new class of recruits officially was unveiled the Cougs' pipeline from Culver City received a jumbo-sized booster shot in the form of Alex Jackson and Khalil Pettway.

Jackson is a 5-10, 175-pound wide receiver who chose WSU over offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Kansas State, Oregon State and others. Pettway is a 6-4, 205-pound outside linebacker who held offers from Arizona, West Virginia, North Carolina State and SMU.

In heading to WSU, the pair builds on a tradition started more than a dozen years ago: Going to Pullman from the west Los Angeles County burg of Culver City.

Their head coach at Culver City High, Jahmal Wright, expects big things from them on the Palouse.

"He (Jackson) will be ahead of the curve going into Coach Leach's offense" because Culver City runs a similar offense, Wright told Wednesday.

Jackson was a three-year starter for the Centaurs and also served on the kickoff and punt return teams. Over his junior and senior seasons he caught a collective 99 passes fro 1,894 yards and 26 TDs.

"Alex is fast and a tough, a hard-nosed worker," Wright said.


Pettway also was a three-year starter for the Centaurs. Similar to Jackson, Wright said Pettway's greatest asset is his speed. In WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske's 3-4 scheme, Wright said Pettway could play either inside or outside linebacker.

"He's intense and I think it's a perfect fit for him over there," Wright said.

Now that Jackson and Pettway are signed, Wright said he expects the Cougars to be busy at Culver City again in this coming recruiting cycle. He said wide receiver Julius Wilson, who already holds an offer from Washington, according to, is one to watch.

"He's one of Alex's best friends so I wouldn't be surprised to see him at WSU," Wright said.

Other Class of 2013 Culver City prospects that Wright expects to draw Pac-12 interest include defensive lineman Deon Young and linebacker Keishawn Haley.

WHILE MICHAEL BUMPUS IS THE MOST famous of WSU's Culver City kids, the credit for starting the connection to Pullman traces to the Mike Price days, said Wright, who himself played for the Centaurs in the 1990s and became the school's coach in 2009.

"Curtis Nettles just started something and it has been a pipeline there," Wright said.


Nettles was a 5-foot-7, 165-pound receiver who lettered at WSU from 1999-2002. He actually was more noted for his tackling skills and developed into a special-teams standout as a gunner.

Following graduation, Nettles returned to southern California, where he now works in the broadcast industry as an account executive. Wright, who has been with the Culver City staff since 2000, said Nettles enjoyed his experience at WSU and that message resonated in the years that followed.

"We're a pretty close-knit group even when kids graduate," Wright said.

In addition to Nettles and Bumpus, Culver City products who played for the Cougs are Karl Paymah, Alex Nguae, Aire Justin and Jessy Sanchez.

"We have a pipeline no matter who the coach is at Washington State," Wright said.

Paymah, a standout cornerback for the Cougars from 2001-04, and Bumpus both played in the NFL. Wright said it is too early to predict professional futures for Jackson and Pettway, but he thinks both could play immediately at WSU.


Correction: WSU Compliance informes CF.C some previous numbers info was incorrect. There were 23 initials, not 24, for 2011. Therefore 2 of the 4 Jan. enrollees will be assigned to previous class.

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