Recruiting: Cougs land freight train of a hitter

<b>WASHINGTON STATE'S penchant for finding football talent in obscure places continues this recruiting season. Crimson gems over the years have been found in the likes of North Battleford, Spangle and Superior. And now it appears the Cougs have landed the Mother of Them All with a ferocious hitter who hails from a place so small even Mapquest might be stumped. CF.C is pleased to break news of another verbal commit for WSU. We talked with the latest member of the crimson family Saturday morning.

"Yes sir, I'm going to Washington State," linebacker Cory Evans told

Evans is a 6-2.5, 215-pound safety/running back out of Northwood High in Lena, a tiny town in central Louisiana. Although a DB in high school, he starred in run support and was in effect, another 'backer out on the field for Northwood.

The Cougs beat out Tulane, Northwestern State, McNeese State and just about every school in the state of Louisiana. Arkansas was among those who came calling this recruiting year -- Steve Spurrier and South Carolina were also looking hard at Evans, the defensive coordinator for 'SC calling Evans' high school coach this past week.

"I feel that this was the best choice for me and my family," said Evans, who projects at outside linebacker for WSU. "They have a strong academics program, a strong football program. It's just a great opportunity for me."

It became clear to Northwood head man Tom O'Kelly over the recruiting season that the Cougs liked Evans a ton. O'Kelly was on the call when The Bayou Bomber verbally committed to WSU linebackers coach Leon Burtnett. Burtnett told the pair that Evans had made not just his day, but his whole recruiting season.

"He was real happy," laughed Evans.

It's an excitement shared by both his coach and by Evans, who said he can't wait to don the Crimson and Gray.

"Oh, I'm REAL excited," Evans said.

The distance was an obstacle for Evans' family but after talking it over with his mom, both came to the conclusion that Washington State was far and away the best choice -- academics and the WSU graduation rate was a huge factor in Evans' decision. Academically, Evans has achieved a qualifying SAT score and is fine shape.

NORTHWOOD IS THE only school in all of central Louisiana that competes in Class A -- they play a lot of games out of their classification. Despite that, Evans was voted first team All-state by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association two years running. He also took home the district MVP honors on offense this year -- and he logged 125 tackles and 6 interceptions.

In addition to his defensive exploits, Evans was the team's punter, kickoff returner, punt returner and running back. He rushed for over 1,500 yards on 231 carries with 22 rushing touchdowns and 8 two point conversions. He also has excellent hands.

But what struck the Cougar coaching staff was his physicality -- Evans is simply a crushing hitter. O'Kelly also pointed out the Cougs are getting a tremendous athlete.

O'Kelly said outsiders who haven't seen him play might conclude -- erroneously so -- that Evans was a star player in a small pond, a jack of all trades but perhaps a master of none.

"Well, he can master them all," said O'Kelly. He's an excellent, excellent football player."

O'Kelly said the Cougs have a big time -- and largely undiscovered -- talent in Evans. In 31 years of coaching high school football in Florida and Louisiana, the coach says Evans is the hardest hitter he has ever coached or competed against regardless of position.

Evans becomes the 18th known member of the Cougs' 2005 class. The numbers can remain in flux all the way up to Signing Day but as it stands now, Washington State is likely to take 21-23 players this February.

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