Cougs land mammoth Canadian lineman

EVERY YEAR IT becomes more and more difficult to locate the diamond in the rough, a talented player who remains primarily an unknown quantity, one that other schools have not yet discovered. The Cougs may have done exactly that with the verbal commitment of mammoth Canadian offensive tackle Joey Eppele.

Vancouver (BC) College Prep Head Football Coach Todd Bernett confirmed Thursday that Joey Eppele, a 6-7.5, 290-pound offensive lineman, has verbally committed to Washington State.

"Yup, he's verbally committed to the Cougars," Bernett told "The only other school that really knew about him was Eastern (Washington), where we have our summer camp. When he was over there, I took him down to the Cougar camp and that's when the coaches found out about him."

Consider that quote for a moment. That only Washington State and Eastern really knew about Eppele.

In 2002, the Cougs signed Adam Braidwood out of Seaquam High School in British Columbia. In 2003, Jon Conlin, a Vancouver College Prep graduate, signed his letter of intent with Washington State.

Conlin ran in many of the same circles as Braidwood, and so when coach George Yarno came calling late in the recruiting season, Conlin became a Coug. Now, the man who coached Conlin at Vancouver College Prep took this year's prized prospect over to Eastern for the Fighting Irish's camp. He then took Eppele to one other school and one other school only - Washington State. The WSU staff so liked what they saw in Eppele, he's now an early commitment for the Cougars, bringing to seven the number of known commitments.

On the Sunday following the Arizona win, coach Bill Doba sent his coaches out on the recruiting trail to observe practice, talk to coaches, pick up video and try to unearth that player "who has been flying under the radar." And why not, whether it be during the summer or fall, the Cougs have proven a knack for getting that kind of player and turning him into a prime time player. One very crucial way they've been able to accomplish that -- the relationships they've built with the high school coaches, such as the one with Bernett.

Bernett describes Eppele as a 'prototypical' left tackle. "His physique will take your breath away," said Bernett. "He is a raw player, but with enough time and patience the Cougars will have a legitimate Pac-10 left tackle."

Although Eppele projects at offensive tackle, he also plays a stout defensive tackle for the Fighting Irish and has an interception to his credit this season.

The massive lineman has also put together a standout prep career in track and field, earning numerous honors in the shot, discus and hammer throw for the HSS Sounders before transferring to Vancouver College Prep this year.

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