Recruiting: Update on Steak Eaters

ARZIONA'S John Mackovic had nary a stratagem to counter the Cougar attack back in September when Mike Price's troops downed the Wildcats by 27. But in the rematch being fought over a pair of high school offensive line prospects, Mackovic seems to have turned up aces in his head-to-head battle with Price. Alas, though, it looks like the Cougs may end up pulling in two other hosses with big-time potential.

In the span of a week in which news arrived that two of the West Coast's top OL propsects --- Elliott Vallejo (6-8, 300) of Salinas. Calif., and John Parada (6-7, 305) of Alta Loma, Calif. --- had committed verbally to Arizona after appearing to be oh-so-close to going crimson comes news that the Cougars have landed, or on the verge of landing, two other highly intriguing hoss prospects.

One is Nick Mihlhauser (6-4, 268) of Arroyo Grande, a California coast community located between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The L.A. Times reports that the Northern League lineman of the year has committed verbally to the Cougars. Mihlhauser is projected as a center in college after playing tackle as a junior and center and guard this season, the Times says.

The other steak eater is long-snapping phenom Billy Petrick (6-5 240) of Morris, Illinois. His 92 MPH fastball is what caught the attention of WSU's baseball coaching staff at an all-star game in California over the summer. Because of the restrictions in baseball that limit out-of-state scholarships, the Cougar baseball staff was delighted to learn that Petrick was also a football player --- a fact they were more than happy tell Coach Price about in the hopes it could lead to Price bringing the kid to Pullman on a grid scholarship. Midwest recruiting analysts at report that Petrick had a great senior season and is now headed to WSU to play both football and baseball. With WSU senior long snapper Alex Johnson about ready to play his last Cougar game, the Cougs need a snapper for '02 and Petrick may be it. Most NFL centers can get the ball to the punter in .7 seconds. Petrick has been clocked this season at .7, .68, and .72.

If the Mihlhauser and Petrick reports are accurate, the Cougars now have 26 known verbal commitments for the 2002 recruiting class. The annual NCAA limit is 25 scholarships per school. Moreover, the Cougars have four grayshirt signees from a year ago who count toward the 2002 allotment (see related CF.C story of Dec. 18, "Recruiting Updates Galore"). That means seven of the 26 will be either grayshirting or going the JC route because of academic woes.

ELSEWHERE on the recruiting scene, touted prep California receiver Blake Mackey announced last week that he is heading to Colorado. He camped at WSU last summer and had installed the Cougars as one of his five finalists. Another California prep standout who listed the Cougs in his top five, linebacker Wesley Walker, sounds like he's leaning toward UCLA or Oregon.

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