Recruiting the Steak Eaters

JUST AS NEWS was arriving that one of Central Washington's touted prep hosses -- Moses Lake's <b>Jordan Reffett</b> -- had turned down WSU to commit verbally to the Huskies, we learned that another of the state's top trench warriors -- 6-foot-5, 295-pound <b>Nate VanderPol</b> of Federal Way High -- is likely to get an offer from Mike Price before too long. <br>

VanderPol is a pre-season all-state pick by the Seattle Times and is getting plenty of attention from the other Northwest schools. He held his own a couple of weeks back when squared up against a guy many think is the state's top hoss prospect: J.C. Ronnfeldt (6-3, 315) of rival Decatur High in Federal Way. Ronnfeldt looks to be headed to Washington, Colorado or Oregon State. David Beall, a 6-5, 295-pounder from Vancouver who generally is rated just behind Ronnfeldt on the in-state hoss list, is believed to be leaning toward Stanford, with Oregon State, UCLA and Washington giving chase.

Two other in-state hosses to keep an eye on are Buddy Anderson (6-0, 300) of South Kitsap and Keith Grennon (6-6-280) of Edmonds. Neither is believed to have received a Pac-10 offer att this point, but both are said to be having good seasons and getting looks from all the Northwest schools.

One hoss who isn't lacking for offers is San Diego's Stanley Davis (6-4, 310) of Marian Catholic High. The Cougars have made him an offer and are duking it out with Arizona, Cal and both Colorado schools for the final two spots on his visitation list. He's already tripped to Nebraska and is set to visit Tennessee and Washington. The Huskers and Dawgs look to be in the driver's seat.

OVER AT TIGHT END, meanwhile, the competition for 6-8, 220-pound Cody Boyd of Ferndale looks like it may shape up as a Cougar vs. Duck contest unless Rick Neuheisel or Gonzaga hoops coach Mark Few reemerge late in the season. Word from up north is that Boyd, leaning toward Eugene early, is definitely in the Cougar camp now and will take his official visit to Pullman shortly after Thanksgiving. The verbal WSU landed from Kent QB Carl Bonnell a couple of weeks back apparently sat very well with Boyd. Boyd, by the way, hopes to play both football and basketball in college.

Another DE/TE whom Price is wooing is Jesse Taylor (6-4, 238) of Chaminade, Calif. The Cougars offered him early, but Oregon State and Utah are coming on strong, with others lurking. His solid blocking skills and 4.7 speed make him a guy to watch.

Coach Price, as regular followers of the Cougar recruiting scene can attest, loves the DE/TE types because they can be developed to play a number of positions. So it's no surprise that the Cougs also are taking a long look at Brian Watji of Arryo Grande, Calif. At 6-4 and 240, he has the frame recruiters are looking for. And with 4.7 speed he has the wheels to match. Cal, Oregon State, USC and WSU are giving him the most attention right now.

TURNING TO the JC ranks, our California connections seems to think Lance Mitchell, a five-star inside linebacker from San Francisco CC who originally signed with WSU out of high school, looks like he may be headed for Southern Cal, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Indiana or perhaps even Washington. With insider ‘backers James Price, Raonall Smith and Serign Marong all graduating after this season, don't be surprised if Price continues to look in the JC ranks for a guy who can come in and contribute right away next year.

* Reports out of Spokane say the Cougars have so far secured eight verbal commitments for the 2002 recruiting class. We know who five of them are: QB Carl Bonnell, LB Brian Hall, DE/TE Adam Braidwood, LB Matt Molinex and LB/DE DeMar Baisy. All but Braidwood, who is from British Columbia, are in-state products. A sixth Cougar verbal is rumored to be Wes Rainwater, one of the highest-flyin' DBs at Price's football camp this past summer. He's a 5-11, 180-pounder from Kent's Kentridge High. Our calls to his prep coach have yet to connect to confirm the rumor.
* The 2002 Cougar rookie who figures to make the biggest impact is receiver Devard Darling. The Florida State transfer with 4.3 speed is redshirting this season.

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