Cougs land superstar back

THESE ARE shaping up to be salad days on the Palouse, Coug fans. Just hours after <b>Lamont Thompson</b> earned first-team All-America honors comes news that <b>Mike Price</b> has landed a plum of a running back for his next recruiting class. Record-breaking JC All-American <b>Jonathon Smith</b> of Pasadena City College has verbally committed to Washington State.

"He's a big timer. He is a great back who will make an immediate impact in the Pac-10," Pasadena associate head coach Tom Snyder told this morning. "He's an every-down back -- a kid you can plug in and not have to worry about. More than anything, though, he's a great person – a humble young man, a dedicated father to his 2-year-old son and a class-act on the field."

Smith's credentials are eye popping. Playing in the toughest JC conference in the nation, he ran for more than 2,000 yards this season and caught 46 passes for another 553 hashes. He set a league record for TDs (31), a national JC record for single-game all-purpose yards (515) and a state JC record for most all-purposes yards in one season (2,863). One analyst at likened his combination of agility, hands and power to former UCLA and Dolphins star Karim Abdul-Jabbar. Smith runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds.

He stands 5-9 and weighs 185, but figures to bulk up to 195 through off-season workouts, Snyder says. In the class room, he's on track to get his AA degree in the spring, so will start workouts with WSU in August rather April. Snyder said academics are no issue with Smith.

Smith earned first-team JC All-American honors and was named the Mission Conference player of the year.

Snyder said Smith had scholarship offers from across the country, but chose WSU for three reasons: The Cougars' immediate needs at running back; a great 2001 season that portends big things in 2002; and the coaching staff – especially assistant coach Mike Walker who led the recruiting effort of Smith and Mike Price, whom Snyder calls "a truly fine man."

Snyder also said Smith told him that the Cougars landed 11 – that's right, eleven – verbal commitments this past weekend. The only others we're aware of at this point are star JC linebacker Kevin Sperry and Kennewick prep standout Scott Davis (more on those guys later).

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