OSU makes big gains with Simone

WIDE RECEIVER Gino Simone out of Issaquah, Wash. picked up an Oregon State offer yesterday, his fifth. In Corvallis and participating in the Beavers' summer camp on Monday, the playmaker whose biggest attribute might be found in what he does after the catch, said the biggest impression during his stay was made on him by the Oregon State players.

"The thing that really stood out to me was I got the chance to meet a lot of the players and they're all just awesome, just great people...There was no disrespect, it was all look-you-in-the-eye and shake your hand and that was really what stood out to me. They were very accepting, which is a big deal," said Gino Simone.

Simone (6-0, 175, 4.6) laughed when taking about how Mike Riley told him the Beavs were extending him a scholarship offer.

"It was very casual how he did it. A lot of coaches like to make it into a big deal and he just kind of put it out there...Really, he didn't even introduce himself, he just said it. And then he was gone. Later we got a chance to go into his office and sit down," said Simone.

Riley, receivers coach Jay Locey and offensive coordinator and area recruiting coach Danny Langsdorf talked with Simone for about an hour.

"It was really good. I really like the coaches a lot, they're a very laid back, good group of guys. I really enjoyed it down there," said Simone.

"Oregon State is really up there for me. I kind of put it in my head that I wouldn't get so into a place before they had offered...with that offer coming in and getting down there, really checking the campus out, meeting some of the guys and the coaches, I was very impressed."

THE COACH HE's made the strongest connection with, however, is at another Pac-10 school, one he's visiting today.

Simone will be in Pullman Tuesday for Washington State's camp. He'll finish off his week by taking an unofficial visit to Washington on Thursday where he'll get to see his old Skyline High coach in Steve Gervais, now the UW running backs coach.

"Coach (Mike) Levenseller is one of the best according to everyone I've talked to," said Simone. "And even coach Gerv, who's been really straight up with me during the whole process, he said 'You're not really going to find a better receivers coach.' He's the best. And you look at the receivers he's produced and you see that -- he's got an all-conference receiver every year."

Levenseller and Simone first made a connection last year in Pullman around this time.

"Coach Levenseller over at Washington State, him and Gerv have been really good friends and I actually made it down to their camp last summer...and he's a real jokester," said Simone. "I've gotten to know him pretty well and he always jokes that I'm not tough enough to play for him so we go back and forth a little bit.

"He gets very consistent play from his receivers, and they like to throw the ball around. And they're going to be running that spread, no-huddle offense this year and that does nothing but making them look more attractive."

WSU is also recruiting the hardest, said Simone, with handwritten letters and emails filling up his real world and virtual mailboxes.

"As far as everything goes, they've really been the one to have gone after it the hardest," said Simone.

Although he broke his thumb recently, Simone wrapped it up into a good sized club and took part in the camp activities in Corvallis. He'll be doing the same when at WSU.

SIMONE WILL ALSO be in Seattle for an unofficial visit to the UW campus on Thursday.

"Whereas Oregon State is very laid back, Washington is very business-like. Coach (Tyrone) Willingham has got it really down and it's all business there...And you see that with the recruiting class they just brought in.

Simone said Gervais being at Washington is certainly a plus, though he also noted he's coaching the running backs for the Huskies and wouldn't be his position coach if he were to accept the Huskies' scholarship offer.

"Obviously having him there is a positive but it's not an overly big thing that's going to (make) my decision," said Simone.

NOTABLE NOTE: Simone racked up 70 receptions for 1,420 yards and 20 touchdowns his junior season. Skyline has two underclassmen who are already gaining considerable attention, quarterback Jake Heaps and receiver Kasen Williams. One of the things that's really great about the three of us is we're all really good friends...our mentality is 'How are you going to stop us' and that might not sound a little coky but you're going to have to bring it if you're going to stop what this Skyline team is going to bring this year," said Simone.

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