Cougs on recruiting roll as holidays near

TALK ABOUT A banner week of recruiting. With three big-time pickups in the last seven days --- two of them four-star athletes from the JC ranks --- the Cougars' 2004 recruiting class is filling up fast. And with three very serious prospects coming to town for official visits this weekend, this train-of-plenty could motor right on into the holidays with sugar plums dancing in Bill Doba's head.

The Cougars' list of known verbal commits is up to 18. If each of them holds firm, that means the Cougs have but seven spots left in this class, and letter-of-intent signing day is still seven weeks away.

The latest member of the club is Jason Roberts, a 6-4 1/2, 225-pound defensive end from Central High East in Fresno. A three-star prospect considered one of the top 60 prep DEs in the land, he visited Pullman last weekend and gave Cougar coaches his verbal commitment --- surprising many who figured he was a lock for the hometown Fresno State Bulldogs.

He also had offers from Michigan State, Arizona State, Cal and Washington and had set up official trips to the latter two but has since cancelled them.

"They want me to come in and be like D.D. (Acholonu) and Isaac (Brown)," he said. Mkristo Bruce was Jason's host this past weekend. "He told me that he liked it a lot there, likes the coaches and the whole family atmosphere. And it's cool that the town (Pullman) is all about football. It's like you're a superstar there and I really liked that."

Meanwhile, in the JC ranks, the Cougars struck pure gold with verbal commitments from a pair of four-star prospects -- Jerome Harrison, a 5-10, 190-pound running back from Pasadena City College, and Tyron Brackenridge, a 6-0, 180-pound cornerback from Upland, Calif., by way of Chaffey College.

Harrison, who is the first PCC back to rush for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and is the second Pasadena RB to play for the Cougars in the past three seasons, following Jonathan Smith. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry this season.

Brackenridge also is being wooed hard by Washington and Utah, but has cancelled his official trips to both schools. "The Washington coaches are telling me they aren't going to let me go that easy, but I'm going to cancel that trip," Brackenridge told Wednesday night. He also spurned interest from Iowa State, Indiana, Houston and USC.

A year ago in the Southern California Bowl -- the JC title game for teams in Southern Cal -- Brackenridge picked off two passes and was voted the game's defensive MVP. A track standout in high school, he ran the 110 meter high hurdles in 15.74 seconds.

A great cover corner brimming with confidence, Brackenride will have three years to play two for the Cougars after he graduates in May of 2004. He earned all-conference and JCGrid-Wire All-American honors this season. He had five interceptions on the year, returning one for a touchdown. He also had 40-plus tackles.

MEANWHILE, THE COUGARS hope to strike more JC gold this weekend as they play host to two junior college standouts -- three-star defensive ends Letrell Myers of Riverside CC and Justin Hickman of Glendale CC. Myers is believed to have narrowed his list to WSU and Fresno State, while Hickman is down to WSU, Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA.

In addition, prep cornerback Sharrod Davis of Spring Valley, Calif., will be in Pullman this weekend. He has narrowed his list to WSU, Oregon, Arizona and Colorado State. A two-way standout, over the last two seasons he piled up more than 1,700 yards on the ground, another 1,000 in receptions and scored 27 TDs.

NOTABLE NOTE: Linebacker Steffan Blume, one of the earliest verbals in WSU's 2004 class, recently was named the Greater Spokane League's defensive player of the year for the second straight season. In addition, he was just picked by the Seattle Times to its all-classifications All-State team. Two other future Cougars also made the Times' All-State first-team list: RB J.T. Diederichs of Ballard and DB Michael Willis of Tacoma's Lincoln High.

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