Recruiting Roundup 5/11

YOU'VE HEARD OF March Madness. But now it's time for May Mayhem. Yep, the unofficial start to the college football recruiting season is here. Coaches spend the month visiting high schools and the NIKE combines get into full swing. WSU has made offers to at least ten prep prospects and already secured one verbal commitment -- the earliest in school history. In all, the Cougs are expected to sign no more than 15 kids in the 2005 class, a modest total that means there's no room for mistakes.

In general terms, look for the Cougars to sign one to two players at each position. "You can never sign enough talented offensive linemen. Throw in a quarterback and you are already down to half of your class being accounted for," says WSU assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Robin Pflugrad. "We need to recruit more diligently than ever. We cannot afford to make any mistakes with next year's class."

Of the nine known scholarship offers the Cougars have made, six are in the offensive backfield -- quarterbacks Arkelon Hall of Fresno, Derek Shaw of Oceanside, Calif., and Joey Elliott of Evansville, Ind. -- and running backs Shelton Danzy (5-10, 185) of Seattle; Bellevue's J.R. Hasty (5-11, 200) and Olympia's Jonathan Stewart (5-10, 218).

Danzy, an All-Metro League performer who committed verbally to WSU in April 28, projects as either a running back or cornerback and says he is open to either position. By giving his word to the Cougars so promptly, he beat the WSU record for earliest verbal commitment -- set by linebacker Alex Hamill last May 3.

Danzy's position coach at Rainier Beach High is former Cougar Derek Sparks -- a man who, literally, wrote the book about recruiting a few years ago. If Danzy has read Lessons of the Game: The Untold Story of High School Football there should be no surprise that he wanted to get the recruiting process over with early.

BOTH HASTY AND Stewart are record-setters who figure to be among the most heavily recruited athletes in the state this year. Hasty, who also plays linebacker, racked up 1,955 yards and 25 TDs a year ago, while Stewart scampered for a remarkable 2,609 yards and 36 TDs. Besides the Cougars, both have been offered by Oregon, Washington and others. Except for the Huskies, which both have scratched from their lists, they look to be keeping options open.

The other known prepsters the Cougars have offered scholies to are wide receiver Austin Usher of Los Angeles and offensive linemen Mat Webb (6-7, 295) of Vancouver, Wash., and Eben Britton (6-6, 280) of Burbank, Calif.

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