Clements' coach says Cougs landed real deal

LOS ANGELES -- Frank Mazzotta, the head coach at California football powerhouse La Habra High, doesn't spare the superlatives when talking about the quarterback he is sending to Washington State. Cody Clements "has one of the most powerful arms I've seen," he says. "He can make all the throws. He can throw the deep out and he can throw on the run.

"He knows how to make good decisions and he's been prepared well."

The 6-2, 205-pound Clements is one of the centerpieces of the recruiting class WSU unveiled Wednesday. He is rated among the top 65 QBs in the land by

Mazotta has no doubts the Cougars landed a keeper.

"He's a fantastic kid and I believe he'll do really well in college. He's a good student and he's also a good teammate. He's got some excellent gifts. He's also got a fantastic arm and a brain to go with it."

Clements was a member of four California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section title winners and the starting QB on the last two of those championship squads. In his two seasons at the helm he passed for 4,217 yards, 61 TDs and just six interceptions. In 2010, when he completed 67 percent of his throws and earned league MVP honors, he fired but one INT in 206 pass attempts.

Clements believes preparation and his strong desire to succeed will help him adjust to the faster college game. He also believes by redshirting his freshman season—as Cougar coaches have told him—will also give him a boost.

And he believes dealing with adversity, as he did at La Habra before his sophomore season, when he tore his ACL and MCL in his right knee, have made him a better quarterback.

"Having to fight back after all of that taught me a lot," said Clements. "Hard work really pays off." That same knee gave a Clements a scare when he went down in the season opener and missed the next two games.

"He tried to cut back against the gain and his knee buckled," said Mazzotta. "Obviously, we all held our breaths. Come to find out, nothing happened seriously. There was probably some scar tissue there. But his knee is as strong as ever."

Clements came back firing after the two-game absence, and he lead La Habra to an 11-3 record on the year, including nine straight wins to close out the campaign. And he did so without a key tool, his participation in the team's running game plan having been significantly limited to limit the possibility against further tweaks and injury.

Clements says he'll begin his work and classes in Pullman in June. Though he is undecided on a major, he hinted that broadcasting might be in his future.

Clements committed to the Cougars back in July. He said the team's "family" environment were among the factors that attracted him to Washington State.

"All of the players hung out together, not just a few, but the whole team," Clements said. "I like the small-town atmosphere. I also really liked Coach (Paul) Wulff and what he had to say. I could tell when I went on my visit that they care more about the players than just football."

The notion of starting at a Pac-10 school also played prominently in Clements' decision.

"They had only three quarterbacks (Jeff Tuel, Marshall Lobbestael and Connor Halliday) on scholarship," he said. "I felt like I'd have a better chance of getting on with my career sooner."

Tuel will be a junior this season, Lobbestael a senior and Halliday a second-year freshman. Also is the mix is third-year sophomore walk on David Gilbertson.

"I think he (Clements) is going to be kind of the hidden gem in this class," Paul Wulff said Wednesday. "He's going to force the issue with the quarterbacks in this program."

Mazzotta says character is another strength of Clements'. More than anything though, Clements is an ideal teammate, the coach said.

"The two years he's been starting quarterback, he's had the team over to his house each Tuesday, making tacos and showing the other guys how much he appreciates them," Mazzotta said. "Every Tuesday! That's just the kind of kid he is and the family he's got."

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