BREAKING: Cougs land RB with speed to burn

HIS TAPE DIDN'T get to Washington State until about three weeks ago but after seeing it, Cougar coaches put an offer on the table and scheduled an official visit. This past weekend, while on his trip to Pullman, the southern California running back with 4.39 speed in the 40 and a yards-per-carry average of 7.7 yards affirmed his commitment to Washington State.

Marcus Mason, the 5-8, 175 pounder from Etiwanda, actually committed to Washington State a week or so before he tripped to WSU on Jan. 21, he tells CF.C.

"Right when I got the offer I knew it was a good area, a good school and a growing program. I have a good chance to play there early. I also have a friend there who told me all about Washington State and that was really important – (WSU freshman receiver) Bobby Ratliff."

Mason rushed for 1,623 yards and 15 TDs as a senior in 2010 (see video highlights below), alternately picking his way between the tackles, running over people and running wide to the edge. And that was by design.

"He adopted my philosophy of how I wanted him to run over that first guy, even though he has world-class speed," said Etiwanda head man Steve Bryce. "...And even later in the season when we were playing some of the best southern California has to offer, he was putting his shoulder down and running over people rather than running around them.

"It just made him more of a complete running back."

His most impressive stat, however, might be this one -- out of 210 carries this season, he had but one fumble.

What also sets Mason apart, said his prep coach, is the work he puts in.

"Marcus is a special player for us just because of his work ethic ... he's also a 'yes, sir; no sir' type of kid. He just works really, really hard," said Bryce.

Earlier this month, during preparations for the Inland Empire All-Star Classic, San Bernardino All-Star head coach Tony Barile said of Mason, "We knew he had speed, but what we didn't expect was how tough he was. Especially seeing him out here these last couple of days at practice, I didn't realize how hard he was to bring down."

MASON'S JUNIOR TAPE didn't cause schools looking for RBs to come running. That's because he played safety, and had only 26 carries on offense for the season. But when WSU got a good look at his senior tape in the backfield, they jumped on it.

"Coach Rasmussen (WSU recruiting coordinator Rich) called to ask me why no one was really recruiting this kid, because he thinks they found a real gem," said Bryce. "And if you're going to take a (late) chance on a kid, why not take a chance on the fastest kid around?

"Watching his tape, they also realized how tough a kid he is. They think he's going to be really effective in (their) offense."

MASON SAID his fastest time in the 40 is a laser time of 4.39. But football isn't played in a straight line, and what Mason brings to the table is a multi-dimensional style.

"Washington State told me exactly what they liked about me ... they said that I can run between the tackles, make good cuts, catch passes out of the backfield and make yards that way too, make that one guy miss. And they liked that I just do a lot of great things in open space," said Mason.

Among his visit highlights in Pullman were the campus and facilities, he said.

"The weight room, the student rec center, the classrooms, everything is just right there in your hands," said Mason. "The coaches were great. They were really easy to get along with and made me feel at home."

Mason said the more he talked with the Washington State coaches about the Cougs' offense and how he would fit into their plans, the more excited he became. He said he also liked that the WSU coaches were down-to-earth and gave him the straight scoop.

"All of the coaches were like that and especially coach (Paul) Wulff, he was very up front. They don't try to blow up your head or anything like that," said Mason.

Mason brings to 24 the number of known verbal commitments Washington State has secured for the 2011 recruiting class, which will be officially unveiled next week.

Washington State offered Mason before Bishop Sankey's official visit to Pullman back on Jan. 14. Sankey this past weekend (Jan. 21) took an official visit to Washington, but as of press time he had not returned calls to analysts to offer up a status report. At the moment, continues to list Sankey as a soft verbal to WSU.

Marcus Mason Highlights

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