Great WSU weekend for Bellevue foursome

WHEN HE TRAVELED to Washington State for an unofficial visit this weekend, Bellevue's Mustafa Branch looked forward to a lot of things. The tour of the facilities, meeting with the players and more. He spoke highly of all of that, but said the weekend was made even more special when his three traveling mates got some big news from area recruiter Eric Russell.

When Branch tripped to WSU on Friday, he didn't make the 280-mile trip from Bellevue to Pullman alone. He was joined by class of 2016 Wolverines teammates Isaac Garcia (safety), Justus Rogers (safety) and Isaiah Gilchrist (running back).

On Saturday, all four spent a lot of time with special teams coach and area recruiter Eric Russell. They took in practice, saw the construction going on with the new football operations building and met a lot of the players.

Before they left, though, Russell made the trip even more memorable for the current sophomores, Branch said.

"We were in his office and he basically just lined all three of them up and extended them scholarship offers," Branch said. "It was so awesome and the guys were really pumped about it. It was some of their first offers and I could tell it was big for them.

"Coach Russell said he wants to bring in some more Bellevue guys to WSU and that he wants to see us playing for the Cougs." Gilchrist, a four-star RB, also holds an offer from Washington. WSU was the first to offer Garcia and Rogers.

AS FOR BRANCH, the class of 2015 linebacker said that on a personal level, the trip was well worth the travel.

"Man, it was a lot of fun," the 6-0, 210-pounder said. "They brought us in, had us watch film with all the players and we had meetings with all the coaches. The nice thing was I have an ex-teammate at Bellevue up there in Nathan DeRider, so he showed us all around and told us great things about the program."

In addition to DeRider, Branch said safety Isaac Dotson, out of Newport High in Bellevue, also helped lead the four Bellevue products on their tour around campus.

"I'd say the highlight of the weekend was just hanging out with all of the players in the dorms and getting a feel for what it would be like to go to school there," Branch said. "We met most of the other freshman the weekend and you can tell they're all really close.

"This weekend at Washington State definitely raised my interest in them. It was a pretty cool town. Sometimes you hear there's nothing to do out there and it's in the middle of nowhere, but I liked Pullman. This was my first time going to a campus and hanging out with the team and getting to know people. We went out to eat, played ball at the rec center and everything. It was all a lot of fun."

THE THREE-STAR PROSPECT holds offers from WSU, Oregon State, Colorado, Northwestern and Wyoming, but added that he's receiving interest from the majority of the Pac-12.

Branch took an unofficial visit to UW in early February, in addition to this weekend's WSU trip, but has not been offered by the Huskies. He said that he's hoping to see a lot more campuses this spring and summer.

"I want to get out to Oregon State, maybe Arizona and hopefully Chicago (Northwestern)," he said. "I also want to head down to California sometime soon so I can check out all of the schools down there. I just have to figure out things with my schedule and see what works best.

"I'm not looking to make a decision soon, though. My primary focus is on getting better for my senior season and helping my team out. I'll probably wait to pick my college until after our football season is done. I don't want to rush anything."

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