Cougar Recruiting Roundup, 12/1

THINGS ARE CERTAINLY looking good for the Cougars as they continue to ride a wave of momentum generated by a 9-3 record and a upcoming bowl trip to San Diego. And under the watchful eye of Pac-10 Coach of the Year <b>Bill Doba </b> they've been hitting the recruiting trail with much sucess, shoring up commitments both regionally and in California.

On the surface it feels like things have slowed down for Washington State, because of the rash of commitments over the previous few weeks, but in reality things are just starting up. One of the biggest jobs a coaching staff has to do is to maintain the current group of verbal commitments it has, and the Cougar coaches are not alone in this endeavor.

Michael Willis, a 6-3, 190-pound athlete from Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln is a good example of a player that is committed to one school while others nip at his heels, hoping he'll open the door a little so they can make their pitch. Such is the case with Washington and Oregon, and Willis is apparently listening.

"They want me to come and play for their school," Willis told when asked about the other schools' recruiting sales pitch. "It's the same thing they tell everybody. I'm one of their top recruits and they respect the fact that I've made a verbal commitment, but they explain that it's only verbal and that there's nothing written yet."

But in a conversation with Lincoln head coach Dick Zatkovich, Washington's interest appears to have waned, as they were at the high school Monday morning but didn't mention Willis as a player of interest to them.

One player they are certainly interested in is linebacker Jason Belford. The 6-2, 215-pound Belford is a player on WSU's recruiting radar, but they are taking their time in evaluating him and have asked for more game film. Zatkovich opined that the Cougars would solidify Willis' pledge, but that Belford would end up at Montlake. Only time will tell...

Another commitment that has been reported as wavering is the one of Seattle (Wash.) Ballard RB/LB J.T. Diederichs. The 6-2, 220-pound Diederichs, who will be in this coming weekend's class 4A championship game against Pasco, verbally committed to WSU back in June, but also has scholarship offers from schools like Washington and Oregon State.

When he made his commitment, J.T. did say that there was always a possibility he could take other visits if he had to, but since then has been steadfastly in the Cougars' corner, even appearing on local television in the crimson and gray.

"Washington State is my school," he told Saturday. "They were the first school to be with me, and I'm keeping that up."

Diedrichs, whose 289 rushing yards last weekend put him over 2,000 for the season, should be an influential bystander when it comes to the Cougars' recruiting his teammate, Keauntea Bankhead. 'Key', who has a sister that also attends WSU, doesn't have an official date set with the Cougars, but expect that to happen at some point. He has an ACT test on the 13th, which might conflict with a possible official visit with Arizona State. It could be that Bankhead doesn't take any official visits until January, based on his schedule.

With 15 verbal commitments already, Washington State is starting to really close in on the recruits that will finish out their class. Look for them to push hard on the likes of Bankhead, Aaron Klovas, Johnie Kirton, Leo Talavou, Erick Lobos, Josh Pinkard and Charles Dillon. If they were to land all of the above players, it would make WSU's class easily in the top-half of recruiting classes in the Pac-10, just below those that traditionally recruit well like USC and UCLA.

Is it unrealistic to expect all of those players to attend Washington State? That's the fun part of following recruiting. You just never know until the last letter of intent is signed in February. Let the fireworks begin!

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