Cougs making hay in Texas

JUST HOW BIG was Washington State's Holiday Bowl thumping of Texas? For starters, take a look at the Cougars' incoming crop of freshmen and you'll see that touted linebacker <b>Tyson Kirksey</b> is an All-State product from a place where few Cougars traditionally come from: Texas. Next, browse the list of this season's prep prospects and you'll see that WSU is in the hunt for at least two Lone Star standouts -- and one of them says the Cougs are near the top of his favorites list.

Given the fact there are more than a dozen Division I college programs in Texas or border states Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico that rely significantly on Texas prep talent to fill their rosters, it's saying something when a school from the Northern half of the Pac-10 is in there taking its shots.

"The Holiday Bowl definitely helped us in the state of Texas," WSU recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach Robin Pflugrad told subscribers in a chat room session last month. "We will recruit Texas more this spring than we have in the past due to the win over the Longhorns. I'm sending four coaches to the NIKE Combine in College Station when previously we had one coach attending."

The win also played a big role in signing Kirksey, he said in an interview in March.

While database is still in the growing stages, the names of two kids from Texas -- Jorvorskie Lane and Brian Jackson -- already appear there with Washington State listed among the contenders alongside Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

The Cougars already have offered a scholarship to Jackson, a 6-1, 210-pound cornerback. And once a qualifying score is secured, expect Lane, a 6-1, 230-pound linebacker/running back to get his offer. Lane was a teammate of Kirksey's last season at Lufkin High, a Texas prep powerhouse. He recently declared the Cougars were running right behind the Longhorns -- and ahead of the A&M Aggies -- on his list of favorites.

Fueling the Cougar cause in Texas is second-year assistant coach Leon Burtnett, who got to know the region well during his three years at Arkansas State.

"I'm not surprised at all that WSU is on the radar in Texas," says long-time Cougar observer, and one-time All-American safety, Paul Sorensen. "Thirty wins in three seasons is impressive, but true appreciation -- on a national scale -- of how far this program has advanced didn't happen until we blew the doors off the Longhorns. They were ranked No. 5 in the country and brimming over with talent, and the Cougars took it to 'em in a marquee game. The fact that win is paying dividends in Texas tells you how impactful it was. It'll open more even doors in California and around the nation as well."

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