Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

MORE PROOF THAT recruiting is more art than science. This past football season, there were 27 players on NFL active rosters at year's end who hailed from high schools in the state of Washington, according to Of those 27, a whopping 30 percent of them – eight total -- didn't play their college ball in a major conference.

In fact, two of the eight played way, way down the college food chain: Michael Koenen at Western Washington and Bryan Braman at West Texas A&M.

Three others hailed from FCS Eastern Washington (Matt Johnson, Isiah Trufant and Michael Roos) and three more from non-BCS conference schools (Kellen Moore/Boise State, Nate Burleson/Nevada and Shiloh Keo/Idaho).

Think about that for a moment.

Thirty percent of the players in the NFL in 2012 who prepped in the state of Washington didn't go to college in the Pac-12 or any other big-time conference. That is a huge number.

Do you think Roos, a three-time All-Pro, would have looked good in crimson?

All those guys effectively were there for the taking. Heck, Moore wanted desperately to play for the Cougs but was deemed too small and a step slow. Burleson received a Cougar offer at the 11th hour back in '99 and turned it down, but no doubt would have jumped at the chance earlier in the process.

Finding kids with potential and then projecting what their ceiling can be isn't easy. So good ones fall through the cracks of major-conference recruiting. And this "30 Percent Club" proves it.

Of the other 19 NFLers last season whose roots are in the state of Washington, five played collegiately for the Cougs (Jason Hanson, Marcus Trufant, Ropati Pitoitua, Rian Lindell and Brandon Gibson); and five for the Dawgs (Senio Kelemete, Isaiah Stanback, Jermaine Kearse, Alameda Ta'amu and Jake Locker).

The remaining nine were Jonathan Stewart (Oregon), David Paulson (Oregon), Johnny Hekker (Oregon State), David DeCastro (Stanford), Taylor Mays (USC), Caleb Schlauderaff (Utah), Stephen Schilling (Michigan), Marquice Cole (Northwestern) and Adam Carriker (Nebraska).

KEN BONE, WHO RAVED ALL SEASON about the work ethic and character of his players, saved his most glowing compliments for Brock Motum and Mike Ladd, the team's only seniors.

"I love those guys," Bone said after the Cougs' spirited comeback last week against Washington that fell a bucket short. "I appreciate them. Just great leaders … Those guys are the epitome of team guys … we will miss them immensely. They're going to be very successful in life, which is more important than this."

While Motum and Ladd are the only two scholarship seniors on the team, the Cougs have signed an incoming recruiting class of three. That third scholarship fits under the NCAA maximum of 13 because WSU had 12 players on scholarship this season.

However, the Cougs are believed to be in the middle of the recruiting chase for JC point guard Deandre Mathieu, who plans to ink a letter of intent when the regular NCAA signing period commences a month from now. Besides the Cougs, he is weighing offers from UCLA, Pepperdine and a host of smaller schools.

So the natural question is this: If he does sign with the Cougs, how is Bone going to fit him in when all 13 scholies for next season are accounted for right now?

There are two options: Somebody transfers or somebody loses their scholarship.

At first blush, it would seem 6-9, 250-pound sophomore James Hunter would be atop both lists. He played only 29 minutes this season and he projects next season to be well down the post depth chart behind D.J. Shelton, Junior Longrus, Jordan Railey, Brett Boese and incoming Josh Hawkinson.

SPRING FOOTBALL AT WSU COMMENCES this Thursday on Rogers Field. Among the position battles that would appear to hold the greatest intrigue are quarterback (Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca), BUCK linebacker (Logan Mayes and Ivan McLennan), free safety (Casey Locker and Taylor Taliulu), and holder for placekicks (anyone with good hands and athleticism).

The holder position may sound like a funny one to include, but WSU special teams coach Eric Russell says replacing graduated David Gilbertson is a pressing concern. Receivers and quarterbacks are the most likely contenders.

Another position to keep an eye on is linebacker. While all three starters from last season return this year, new Cougar linebackers coach Ken Wilson told CF.C last month that he plans to evaluate the troops with no preconceived ideas. "A clean slate" for everybody, he said. Wilson, who comes to WSU from Nevada, is a proven linebackers coach. Six of his former Wolfpack LBs were under contract with NFL teams in 2012.

CF.C will be on hand with daily coverage of spring practices for the 13th straight season. Joe Doyle will be there wall-to-wall, with Adam Lewis complementing those efforts and Braulio Perez parachuting in for a couple of days of feature writing.

JAMES DONALDSON, THE COUGAR basketball great of the late 1970s and a one-time Seattle Mayoral candidate, is living part-time in China these days with a new career, he reports in a recent email to friends and associates. He's wearing two unique hats. One is bringing American pro basketball teams to play in China and bringing Chinese teams to the U.S. for training and study. The other is recruiting high school and university students in China for study exchanges in the U.S.

Donaldson, who spent 14 years in the NBA, says his 7-foot-2 height is quite the conversation starter in China. His Chinese name is Tang Lu Shen, which means "king of the road" or "god of the highway." The name was given to him by a Chinese friend. The name combines the sound of his last name, his frequent travels, and his height.


SPEAKING OF FORMER WSU BASKETBALL stars, Mark Hendrickson's attempt at a comeback with the Baltimore Orioles is looking less fanciful and more fortuitous right now. At age 39, the 6-foot-9 pitcher is trying a submarine throwing motion for the first time and the results have been impressive so far. As of last week, he had a 2.45 ERA in four spring training games.

Last season was the first since 2002 that Hendrickson didn't throw a pitch in the Major Leagues. He's competing for a job this spring as a lefty set-up man.

Hendrickson's name has been in Cougar news of late, because Brock Motum was closing in on – and finally passed – him for No. 5 on WSU's career basketball scoring list.

Hendrickson, by the way, is one of only 12 people in history to play in both the NBA and Major League Baseball. And one of those other 12 is also a Cougar ... Gene Conley played six seasons with the Red Auerbach Boston Celtics and 11 seasons in the MLB, mostly with the Braves.

OUT ON THE baseball diamond at Washington State, the Cougars have been a force at the plate this season.

Coming off a series win at perennial power Arizona State in Tempe this past weekend, Washington State (11-7) is No. 1 in the Pac-12 in both hitting (.320) and home runs (14), and they're tied for first in doubles (43).

That's the good news. Defensively, the Cougs have room for improvement. Washington State is last in earned run average in the conference(4.35). The Cougars are also eighth in fielding at .964.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The first-ever CougsFirst! Trade Show is set for April 17 at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. Organized by a loyal group of WSU alums that includes Jack Thompson and Robbie Tobeck, CougsFirst! is all about Cougs supporting Cougs. It's a volunteer initiative dedicated to having all WSU alumni think CougsFirst! whenever and wherever they purchase a product or service.

Join hundreds of Cougs in a casual and fun business environment promoting a wide variety of products and services. WSU and NFL great Drew Bledsoe will provide the keynote address and display wines from his Doubleback Winery. The CougsFirst! trade show is free to attend. Register today and bring a friend.

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