BREAKING: All-purpose yardage threat to WSU

JAMES WILLIAMS, a 5-11, 185-pound three-star running back prospect out of Burbank, Calif., who racked up 2,350 all-purpose yards as a junior, could have stayed closer to home and accepted an offer from Cal. He could have ventured out to Arizona to play for another Pac-12 school. But he pledged crimson on Wednesday. And that was due to one thing above all else ...

Washington State -- led by area recruiter Paul Volero along with running backs coach Jim Mastro -- recruited him like no one else.

"I just committed to Washington State (because) I felt like they wanted me more than Cal and Arizona did," Williams told moments ago.

THE COUGS ASK their running backs to do a lot of different things and if they can also serve as dangerous return men, that's a bonus.

But regardless of how they get their yards, Leach's stated goal is for one of his running backs to lead the Pac-12 every year in all-purpose yards.

Williams racked up 2,350 all-purpose yards this past season as a junior (1,503 rushing; 491 receiving; 185 on five kickoff returns; and 171 hashes on 12 punt returns.)

"They liked that I can do a lot of things (besides rushing)," Williams said of Washington State. "They like that I can catch, punt return, kick return. And that was my goal when I started working (hard) my sophomore year, I knew coaches were going to like that.

"And if you look at the NFL, all the running backs catch."

Watching Williams on tape, he's slippery and athletic. National Analyst Greg Biggins says he's more quick than fast and is deceptively physical. He also looks like he has another gear once he gets some green in front of him.

ABOUT A MONTH from now, Williams will be out on the Palouse to take it all in.

"I'm excited about it," Williams said of his decision and his pending trip to WSU. "I'm going to visit them the first week in June. I talked to (Volero) and he told me about a lot of good stuff there... And I looked online to look at the new facilities built there.

"And I knew they had an outstanding coaching staff, with Coach Leach and the running backs coach there too."

James Williams profile

When the Cougs offered, Washington State made a strong early impression in telling Williams they wanted to talk to his parents first. "They said that's how they like to do it and I respect that," Williams said last month to Biggins.

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