Alfred keeps Cougs on OL roll started a year ago

A YEAR AFTER securing one of the most enviable classes of offensive line recruits on the West Coast, Washington State got a kick start in that same direction for 2005 with the verbal commitment of Gig Harbor's <b>Kenny Alfred</b>. Arguably the finest line prospect in the state of Washington this season, Alfred is the fourth known verbal the Cougars have secured and the first of what figures to be a crop of three Big Uglies.

Back in February, WSU landed an enviable bunch of prep hosses in Andy Roof, Dan Rowlands and Eddie Vickers. All three are redshirting this season.

For the 6-3, 290-pound Alfred, the lure of home was stronger than he could have imagined. That tipped the scales for WSU over his other finalist, Northwestern. Washington, Oregon State and others also had offered scholarships.

"I know I had talked earlier about how location wasn't going to be that big of a factor for me, but it turns out that it was a factor," he said. "It was a bigger deal to me than I thought it would be. In the end, I just felt more comfortable with Washington State than Northwestern."

Alfred attended camp at Washington State and took an unofficial visit to Northwestern this summer. Both schools were close to his heart from the beginning, and things stayed that way even after other schools started offering scholarships.

So when did Alfred know when to pull the trigger? "I'd been going through it for a few weeks before I made the call between WSU and Northwestern, and I finally felt comfortable with it over the weekend," he said. "I figured it was time, but I didn't really know when I was going to do it. I was sitting in my first period class on Wednesday and I told coach (Darren McKay) that I wanted to make the call during our passing period. It all came together and felt right, so I did it."

McKay reached Cougar Offensive Coordinator Mike Levenseller first, then Head Coach Bill Doba next. "They seemed really excited," Alfred said. "It was hard to tell if it was a real shock to them. I don't think they expected it that early." The coaches recruited Alfred to play guard or perhaps center.

"I was feeling comfortable with the process, but then it started to grate on me a little," he said. "There's a lot going on with me and my family personally, so it just all added together. I have to say I was pretty relieved when I made the call."

One school that can't be thrilled about Alfred's commitment is the University of Washington. If Alfred was feeling better staying even closer to home, UW was closer than any of the schools that offered. So why was it that the Huskies didn't even make the final cut? "It was a mix of things," said Alfred. "I was never super high on Washington. It was kind of based on how their season is going, but I was never really into the campus. I really like the coaches, but stability was an issue."

Don't expect Alfred to take any other official visits other than the one he'll take to Pullman. "I think that's the only place I need to visit," he said. "I feel pretty grounded in my decision. I think I'll take a visit during a game, but I'm not 100 percent sure I'm going to do that. I might wait until my season is over."

And any words for Cougar fans? "I just want to tell them that I'm really looking forward to being a Coug and that I'm looking forward to working hard."

Alfred joins fellow in-staters Shelton Danzy (Seattle/Rainier Beach) and Brandon Gibson (Puyallup/Rogers), and Californian Arkelon Hall (Fresno/Edison) on the Cougars' list of verbal commitments.

Other offensive line prospects the Cougars are known to be giving hard looks at include Nick Thornton-Jack of Seattle's Ballard High and Nick Richmond of Garland, Texas.

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