More Lone Star gazing

WASHINGTON STATE'S dabbling with football recruiting in the state of Texas has progressed to full-fledged serious bidness. The Cougars have now offered an unprecedented five scholarships to prep prospects from Texas. In light of the fact the Cougars are believed to have extended no more than 15 total scholies so far this recruiting season, that puts the Lone Star state on par with WSU's traditional talent pipelines Washington and California.

The latest Texans to earn offers from the Cougars are Marcus Burton, a 6-2, 220-pound linebacker from Channelview; McKinner Dixon, a 6-3, 240 defensive end from Lufkin; and Brent Nickerson, a 6-1, 175-pound cornerback from Irving.

They join two other kids from Texas previosuly reported to be on Cougars' radar -- 6-1, 230-pound linebacker/running back Jorvorskie Lane, and 6-1, 210-pound cornerback Brian Jackson. (See CF.C story of May 19)

Both Lane and Dixon are from prep powerhouse Lufkin High, the same school that produced Tyson Kirksey, a member of WSU's incoming class of freshmen.

Besides the Cougars, Burton is entertaining offers from Oklahoma State, Missouri, Iowa, Iowa State, Colorado and TCU, with Texas and Oklahoma lurking. In 2003 he posted 66 tackles and 12 tackles for loss. He also maintains a 3.41 GPA and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds.

Dixon also has offers from a number of schools. In addition to WSU, the list includes Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Florida, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Nebraska and LSU. Dixon, who played at or around 265 pounds last year said he's slimmed down to 240 and will try to move to the more athletic position of DE.

Nickerson has offers from WSU, Texas Texas, Notre Dame, Tulsa and Mississippi State. He runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds.

So what's up with Ol' Wazzu doing all the courting in Texas?

The Cougars' Holiday Bowl thumping of Texas this past December, that's what. Three consecutive 10-win seasons -- plus three straight national Top 10 finishes -- capped by a high-profile victory over the Longhorns is opening lots of doors that might otherwise have been closed. In fact, touted California prep QB Arkelon Hall, who committed verbally to WSU last month, mentioned the win over Texas as making a big impression on him.

In addition, Cougar assistant coach Leon Burtnett knows the state of Texas well from his long coaching tenure that included a recent stint at Arkansas State.

WSU recently sent four coaches to the NIKE combine in College Station, whereas in prior seasons they invested just one coach.

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