Recruiting: High marks for Cougs down south

THE RECRUITING TRAIL in California is turning up 9s or better for Washington State these days. On a scale of 1 to 10, two standout prep prospects rated their recent trips to Pullman near perfect. And a third said the Palouse "felt like home," putting the Cougs in a dead heat with Michigan and Oregon State for his services.

Josh Pinkard, a 6-0, 185-pound safety from Oxnard's Hueneme High, says the two teams that have been at the top of his wish list for a long while -- Washington State and USC -- remain there following his visit to Pullman earlier this month.

"It was a smaller town, but I could get used to it in a week or two," Josh said. "The people there were nice." He rated the trip a '9'. "If anything, it was kind of cold, but that was probably it."

His player-host was sophomore defensive back Alex Teems of San Pedro.

Any thoughts of making a commitment to the Cougars? "I still need to take other trips, but it sure felt like I could go there. They went to the top of my list with USC."

Oregon (in December), USC, Arizona State and California are probably the other trips Pinkard will take.

Meanwhile, Ra'Shon Harris, a 6-5, 280-pound lineman from Pittsburg, Calif., rated his trip to Pullman for Homecoming against Arizona a 9.5.

"It was important to see the college environment and see how things were at halftime and after the game, see how the players react to each other. It was also cool to see the speed of the game up close," he recently told theInsiders.com.

A first-team all-league defensive end, he led his loop in sacks this season with 12, and potentially more depending on his club's playoff run.

He also plans to trip to Oregon State, Washington and Arizona State.

"All teams are real equal right now," he said. "Every day I ask God for guidance in my decision, but I'm just a 17-year old young man who has to figure out what's best for me."

WHILE HARRIS IS just beginning his official visits, another Califfornia prep standout is wrapping his up. Keston Cheathem, a 6-2, 185-pound safety/receiver from Pomona High with 4.5 speed, has taken four visits already -- to WSU, Michigan, Oregon State and Washington.

The Dawgs are a distant fourth to the other three, but he hasn't declared a leader, he says. Of his trip to Pullman, it "felt like home because three players from my school go there and I like that they could mentor me," he said.

The three former teammates from Pomona are defensive lineman Odell Howard, and defensive backs Hamza and Husain Abdullah. "

"I want to wait but I'm gonna see if other guys pull the trigger. If I feel I have to, I'll pull the trigger early too."

Cheathem concluded the year with 30 receptions for 700 yards and six TDs. On defense, he posted 70 tackles and had one interception.

ANOTHER WIDEOUT TO watch from California is Robert Jordan, a 5-11, 161-pound blazer (4.4) from Hayward. The Cougars look to be battling it out with UCLA and Arizona to win the final two spots in the lad's top five, though the Bruins' standing might be a tad diminished --- he admitted to attending the USC-UCLA game last weekend and pulling for the Trojans.

He has visit dates already locked in with Kansas State, Oregon and Cal.

Robert told theInsiders.com that Cal is recruiting him the hardest, calling every week and sending a lot of mail. Kansas State, where his brother Randy is a senior cornerback, is also showing a lot of love. "Everyone thinks that it's gonna matter that he goes there, but it doesn't. That rumor can stop right here, right now." But Robert said he will probably go to whichever bowl game K-State accepts to watch his brother play.

Jordan also has offers from the likes of BYU, Boise St, Colorado, Louisiana St, Utah and Utah St and Rutgers, but doesn't appear interested in any of them.

He concluded this past season with 30 catches for 650 yards and 18 total TDs.

NOTABLE NOTES:
J.T. Diederichs, the star back from Seattle's Ballard High who verbally committed to Washington State last summer, piled up 281 rushing yards and two TDs Saturday night to lift the Beavers to a 32-27 win over previously unbeaten Olympia in Class 4A seminfinal action. Ballard will take on Pasco next Saturday for the state title. With his remarkable work against Olympia, Diederichs pushed his season rushing total to 2,006 yards. He's averaging more than 8 yards per carry.

J.T also squashed any rumors of him taking official visits to any school besides Washington State. "Washington State is my school," he told Insiders.com on Saturday. "They were the first school to be with me, and I'm keeping that up."

WSU has 15 verbal commitments so far in its 2004 recruiting class, which figures to number 25. For the complete, click on the "commits" button in the section of the left-hand column called FOOTBALL SCOUT LINKS.


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