Cougs doing top job in Northwest, says Barton

BELLINGHAM - True, the WSU coaches are hard at work recruiting California, Florida and Texas -- but they certainly haven't forgotten about the Northwest. Indeed, Taylor Barton, a former Husky QB, Oregon State GA and someone who has long had his finger directly on the pulse of area recruiting, says the Cougar coaches are doing the top job in recruiting the Northwest talent.

It's something he believes will pay off in a big way this recruiting cycle, and beyond, for Wazzu.

"The thing that's great about their staff is the way they are going out and recruiting," Barton said of Washington State. "Their efforts are more impressive than any other school here in the Northwest. Since I came up in high school (Beaverton in Oregon) in the mid-90s, I don't think I've ever seen it where Wazzu is so high in recruit's eyes."

CF.C caught up with Barton at Bellingham's Civic Stadium on Sunday afternoon. He and his Northwest Elite Index team had just put on their fifth NEI Combine of the spring, where a handful of WSU targets were on hand.

The former Husky QB (2001-02) was unequivocal in his praise for the Cougar coaching staff.

"Oh, they're just doing an incredible job up here," Barton said without hesitation.

There's reason for that.

Although Barton hasn't met with WSU head coach Mike Leach, he has consistently spoken with WSU outside linebackers coach Ken Wilson and special teams coach Eric Russell, who play a big hand in the Cougars' recruiting efforts in the Northwest.

"It used to be UW at the top and now Oregon has kind of taken the reign, but now it's cool to see that every top recruit you speak with, Wazzu is one of the top schools they mention," Barton said. "I know my fellow Huskies will hate hearing this, but I respect the heck out of Washington State and what their staff is doing is amazing."

SO WHAT IS it that's separating the Cougar coaches from the rest of the programs in the Pac-12?

It's simple, Barton said.

"Some coaches go out and give the spiels and think they are young, hot, guru recruiters and I think kids can often see through the fakeness," Barton said. "With Washington State, the coaches are genuine and the kids see they're serious about turning around the program. They see how well they're treated during the recruiting process is how they'll be treated in college.

"We (Northwest Elite Index) deal with all the kids in Oregon and Washington and you hear what they have to say about different colleges. We'll get mixed reviews with some schools and their coaches, but with Washington State, it's coming back overwhelmingly positive. That's on the coaches for being real."

THE NEI PUTS on combines and showcases throughout Oregon and Washington and Barton has seen countless prospects this spring. One of those athletes is WSU commit and Bellevue defensive lineman Marcus Griffin, who Barton said is a key pick up for the Cougs.

"Marcus Griffin is the real deal," Barton said. "I know some schools are on the border of offering him and I think for WSU the scary thing will be that they'll have to fend off some competition down the road for him. I think for a defensive lineman, he's as good as you'll get around here. He'll be a big time guy for them. He's a big kid who moves around really well.

"To get a kid like Marcus, who is a homegrown kid, is a tremendous pick-up for them. Marcus Griffin is one of the most popular kids in this class. He's all over twitter, Facebook and different events plugging Washington State. These kids hear that and grow interested. I'm 100 percent sure Wazzu will continue to get kids from this region, based off Marcus Griffin."

AS FOR THE action on the field Sunday, stay tuned for that story later today.

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