Farm country steak eater likes Cougs

IF THE EARLY OFFERS are any indication, it looks like Washington State is planning back-to-back recruiting classes that are loaded with big-time offensive line prospects. A tenth name has been added to the list of known scholarship offers the Cougars have made this spring and it's another offensive lineman – 6-4 ½, 295-pound <b>Michael Marks</b> from tiny Joseph, Ore.

Joseph, named after the legendary Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph, is located in the Northeast part of the state about 130 miles south of Pullman. The population totals 1,073. And the nearest stop light is some 75 miles away in LaGrande. The surrounding landscape is mostly forest and farms. Joseph High, with an enrollment of 116, played 11-man football last season but is going back 8-man ball this fall.

"Oregon coach Neal Zoumboukos said that he's the best offensive line prospect in Oregon," Joseph head coach Rusty Eschler told Chris Fetters of the Tuesday. "And Coach (George) Yarno (Washington State) thinks he's a D1 kid for sure."

Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State have each offered him a scholarship, either verbally or in writing. Joseph usually has its summer team camp at WSU, and Eschler feels that the Cougars and Beavers will be the schools to beat because of their strong agricultural programs.

In a twist that is eerily reminiscent of another Cougar -- Will Derting -- Marks' story is the stuff of legend. "He lives 55 miles away from school, on his family's ranch," Eschler said. "They are actually closer to Idaho than us. It takes an hour and a half for him to get to school. But sometimes he takes the bus."

Takes the bus? "His Mom is the bus driver," adds Eschler.

Michael's never been tested in the 40 time and now benches 300 pounds, which Eschler said makes Marks "very happy."

Marks, a second-team All-State selection last season, also stars in track, slinging the discuss 13% feet and the putting the shot 45 feet.

Marks is the third known hoss the Cougars have offered this spring. The other two are Mat Webb (6-7, 295) of Vancouver, Wash., and Eben Britton (6-6, 280) of Burbank, Calif.

In the 2004 recruiting class the Cougars landed three coveted offensive linemen: Andy Roof, Dan Rowlands and Eddie Vickers. Also in that class was a kid from a farm town as small as Joseph, where 8-man football reighs: defensive end Colin Donovan of Superior, Mont.

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