Headliners and hidden gems, says Doba of recruits

<b>ARKELON HALL AND Fevaea'i Ahmu are the headliners in Washington State's newest class of football recruits, but if you're looking for instant impact you may want to scan down the list to some of the lesser known names. One of them, in particular, drew praise from Cougar head man Bill Doba late Wednesday after the fax machine had cranked out 20 national letters of intent to go with three holdovers the Cougars have from their '04 crop.

"Lorenzo Bursey can come in and play right away," Doba said of the JC transfer. "Bursey is a good possibility as a return guy -- he was excellent on video tape. He's one I'm very excited about. I think he's got a chance to be an excellent football player and (he) wasn't highly recruited."

Bursey was a star running back and corner in high school and signed with Dennis Erickson and Oregon State in 2002. When academic hurdles blocked his way, he headed to West Los Angeles College, but only played football this past season, thus giving him three years to play at Washington State. He had a banner '04 campaign at running back, but looks to be a prototypical Division I-A slotback.

Bottom line, though, he's fast (4.4 in the 40) and athletic, so could end up playing in the secondary, too.

Doba said that while Bursey and Puyallup uber-athlete Brandon Gibson are both ticketed for the receiving corps, they're talented enough to play corner as well. Gibson, who caught Doba's attention at the WSU football camp last summer by catching everything in sight, also played safety at Puyallup.

Doba also said the four defensive backs in the class have the potential to see immediate playing time. They are JC transfer DeWayne Patterson (safety) and high school standouts James Bradley (corner), Xavier Hicks (safety) and Shelton Danzy (corner).

He noted that Danzy, from Seattle, turned heads at WSU's summer camp and has the potential to play many positions. "He is a good hitter and a good athlete. He can play running back, wide receiver, a-back, or cornerback. We fell in love with him at camp."

Ideally, the Cougs would like to redshirt the incoming freshmen. But talent and need may dictate otherwise in some spots. One such could be Ahmu, a four-star, 290-pound defensive tackle from San Diego. "Fevaea'i Ahmu was a really good find," said Doba. "He will develop and could play next year. He is a great kid and comes from a great family." He chose WSU over Oregon, Colorado and Arizona.

DOBA SAID ONE of the "under the radar" guys that the Cougar Nation can look forward to watching is outside linebacker Courtney Williams from Dorsey High in Los Angeles. He was sack machine in 2004, but didn't start generating major college recruiting interest until late in process.

With 4.54 speed in the 40, the 6-foot-2 and 215-pound Williams is a force.

"We're excited about Williams," said Doba. "I think Williams has great potential. He plays outside linebacker and had 26 sacks last year. I don't care what league you are in, that's a bunch of sacks."

Williams is one of five linebackers in the class and all that can flat out fly to the football. Four run a 4.55 or less and the fifth checks in at 4.7.

GRADING THE CLASS: "We have recruited under the radar for a long time. As far as what we wanted, this class is an A or a B in terms of number of kids. We only had one kid who de-committed. They are good character kids …I think we improved the speed of our team with some very athletic guys."

GIBSON'S FAN CLUB: Brandon Gibson, the 6-0, 175-pounder from Puyallup, was so impressive in camp last summer that Shelton Danzy and Arkelon Hall, two of the Cougars' earliest verbal commits, started lobbying Cougar coaches to make Gibson an offer. Of course, the coaching staff had already come to the their own conclusions after watching Gibson tear it up out on the field.

THE HOLIDAY BOWL victory over No. 5 Texas a year ago helped land the four Texans in the Cougars' new class, Doba said. And so did assistant coach Leon Burtnett, who was relentless in his pursuit of talent in the Lone Star state, added WSU recruiting coordinator Robin Pflugrad, noting that he thinks Burtnett logged more travel miles this season than any coach in the land.

OF CORY EVANS, the sleeper pick up out of central Louisiana, Pflugrad said, "He is a great looking player. He can come up and really force the run. It will be fun to show his highlight tape to people because he can really come up and hit." Evans starred on offense, defense and special teams, but projects as an outside linebacker or safety for the Cougs.

For Doba's comments on prize quarterback Arkelon Hall, click to the CF.C front page story – Hall knew early on WSU was place for him – that was posted late yesterday.

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