DE prospect obscure no more

MIKE PRICE has been known to find football talent in places way off the beaten path. But the obscurity surrounding one of the first verbal commitments of his 2002 recruiting class has to set a record of some sort. For starters, every media outlet this side of the <i>Seattle Times</i> has been spelling the kid's name wrong since August.

That's right, folks. Matt "Molinex" is actually Matt Mullennix. And he attends Liberty High, not Liberty Bell High. Plain ol' Liberty is in Matt's home town of Spangle. Liberty Bell High is way up in Twisp in north-central Washington.

"I can't even find Liberty High in my national listing of high schools," said recruiting guru Greg Biggins when informed for the mix up.

For the record, Liberty is a Class 1A school in the Northwest League that won but three games in 2001.

Spangle is located outside of Spokane just off the highway to Pullman. If you blink en route to Martin Stadium on Saturdays you're more than likely to miss it.

Mullennix, though, is most hard to miss. In a league where some linemen go 175, Mullennix is a giant, standing 6-3 and weighing 235. He comes by his talent naturally. His pappy, Scott, starred at Spokane's Shadle Park High before going on to start at linebacker for the Cougars in the early 1970s.

Matt could follow in dad's footsteps at LB or wind up at defensive end.

He was a three-year starter at Liberty at both linebacker and fullback. This season he earned all-league honors at both positions, but defense is wear he really excelled, posting 139 total stops --- an average of 15 per game.

His prep coach, Rod Fletcher, told CF.C that the kid's athleticism ranks up there with the finest ever to come out of Spangle, including former WSU starters Vince and Chris Leighton and former UW starters Dave and Dean Browning.

Mullennix impressed folks at  Price's football camp last summer with his lateral movement, work ethic and ability to fight through blockers. He runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds. Moreover, says Fletcher, he has great character and a big-time presence in the classroom, maintaining a 3.9 GPA.

IN OTHER Cougar recruiting news, the verbal commitment Price received a week ago from speedy strong safety Reggie Grigsby (6-0, 179) bring to 10 the number of publicly known WSU verbals.(Click to the CF.C front page and the upper-right-hand column for the complete list.)

Grigsby is the first from out of state. He hails from El Camino High in Oceanside, Calif., where he earned his league's defensive player of the year award as well as first-team all-region plaudits. He gave his verbal commitment to Price during an in-home visit last Tuesday, choosing the Cougars over Arizona State. He's a solid tackler (56 this season, including 11 for loss) but a great cover guy who blankets wideouts like a corner. He had four INTs this year. He told Biggins that he loved the family feel of WSU when he tripped there in early October.

ELSEWHERE on the recruiting trail, much coveted prep receiver James Finley of Los Angeles tripped to Oregon this past weekend and had a first-rate time, according to Biggins. There is one fly in the ointment, however. Finley, who is scheduled to visit Pullman this weekend, wants to play immediately and doesn't see that happening at Oregon. Besides Oregon and WSU, he's also looking at Oklahoma and Oregon State.

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