Why Danzy chose WSU over Oregon

<b>IT SEEMED THAT AT every turn this recruiting season, Washington State found itself duking things out with Oregon and Colorado. The most celebrated of the tussles was over Jonathan Stewart, who opted for Eugene after being considered a WSU lean. But the most colorful player in the mix, who was an Oregon lean for a long while, is now a Cougar. Here's the fascinating tale of Shelton Danzy's journey through the recruiting process and how he became the earliest verbal commit in WSU history.

Shelton Danzy, rated by Scout.com as one of the top 40 cornerback prospects in the nation, began doing his own research on colleges several years ago, along the way becoming a walking encyclopedia on every Pac-10 and WAC program, plus others.

While hard to imagine now, given his months of unabashed love for the crimson and gray, the consensus All-State cornerback from Seattle was warming to the notion of going south after attending a summer camp at Oregon following his sophomore year.

"I liked it," said Danzy, who also starred at running back during his prep career. "I went back my junior year. The reason I chose to go to Oregon in the first place was because they were one of the few full-contact camps at that time."

But he was by no means sold on Oregon. He sent tapes of himself to schools throughout the West, and continued studying each program. If you wanted to know what style of defense Cal or UCLA was running, he could tell you. The coaching philosophies at Colorado State or Fresno State? Just call Danzy. He'll cite you names, dates, chapter and verse.

AT OREGON'S CAMP, Danzy and Rainier Beach teammate Adam Leonard both excelled, Danzy doing so despite suffering an injury. Both were pulled aside after and told that the Oregon coaches were very interested in the pair.

"We stood out, I don't have any problem saying that," laughed Danzy.

When he arrived home, a letter was waiting for him from the Oregon staff. Danzy was thinking then that he would probably be a Duck.

So he traveled to Eugene for junior day a little less than a year ago. An Oregon coach told Danzy he was one of their top three defensive backs. But the broader vibe was unsettling -- it seemed the coaching staff only had eyes for Jonathan Stewart and J.R. Hasty.

A few days later, Danzy got a call from an Oregon coach who said he finished watching all the tapes and loved what he saw. A scholarship offer was planned for the fall.

"That (waiting till mid-season) was okay, no biggie."

THEN A LETTER came in the mail with a postmark from Pullman.

"I got the invitation for Washington State's junior day," said Danzy. "And at this time, I didn't think I was going to go because I had spent all this time at Oregon, I had spent all this time on Oregon, I just thought that's where I'm probably going to be."

Danzy's cousin suggested he go to Pullman so he'd have something to compare Oregon against. Danzy knew about Washington State's penchant for sending defensive backs to "the league" -- but not a whole lot more. So he started to look deeper into the program.

"I found out coach (Ken) Greene was All-American at Wazzu, found out he himself had played in the league (a first round draft pick, no less)," said Danzy. "So that right there sparked my interest. I did a little more homework and found out more about coach (Kelly) Skipper. So if I were to end up at defensive back or running back, I've got some people there that have played at the next level, that have coached guys to the next level."

DANZY'S ATHLETIC DIRECTOR at Rainier Beach, Dan Jurdy, comes from a long line of Washington State loyalists, and advised Danzy to go without any expectations.

"So I go and sign in and I kid you not, from the time I signed in, it was different," said Danzy. "The lady who was at the table said 'Shelton Danzy?! Hold on for a second!' and she went and got the graduate assistant (Fred Shavies) and he said "Hey! How are you, Shelton! We've seen your tape, loved it! Coach Skipper's been looking for you.'"

"Coach Skipper came down and he's taking me around, passing me from coach to coach -- 'Hey, this is the kid whose tape we were watching, this is Shelton Danzy.' And I'm like, 'Now THIS is what I'm talkin' about,'" laughed Danzy.

"Then coach Bill Doba stood up and and addressed the group. 'This is who I am, these are the things I believe in, and this is where the program is headed,'" Danzy remembers. "At Washington State, it was 'This is what we're about and if you come here, be prepared to work hard.' That caught my eye."

ANOTHER, SMALLER, THING caught Danzy's attention. Not trying to sound grandiose, but he asked coaches at both schools what happens if you leave early for the pros -- can you still come back and finish up your degree? "At Washington State you can return and they'll welcome you with open arms as you finish up your degree. At Oregon, it's different. Because I asked that question and once you leave there, that severs the relationship. (The coach) said they have to focus and take care of the guys that are there. And he was just being truthful. I can respect that, he was open and honest."

When it came time to split into groups at the WSU Junior Day, if they played two positions, they were told to head to whichever position they see themselves playing.

"So I get up, start walking towards the DBs, and Coach Skip grabs my hand and pulls me away and then introduces me to coach Doba," laughs Danzy. He said, 'Hey young man, we loved your tape, I've been doing some research on you. We haven't had a Rainier Beach recruit come through here before, what do you think about Washington State?'"

Danzy eventually went with the DBs and coach Greene, where, by the way, Greene told Danzy he could see him at strong safety for the Cougs. From there it was off to the weight room with Fred Shavies, a four-year standout on the defensive line for the Cougars. "He let me know that 99 percent of the team voluntarily stays and works out over the summer," said Danzy. "He said, 'Everything we have here we earn. If you're going to be here, its going to be down to business.' And I liked that. I liked the fact he was straight up with me."

AFTER THE ANNUAL spring game, Danzy met Cougar safety Husain Abdullah.

"He said he loved it there and explained about the family atmosphere and the strong work ethic and just let me know, 'This is how it is here.' At this point, I'm pretty impressed."

At game's end, Doba made a special point to talk with Danzy and his family. "Everything they did was just above and beyond," said Danzy. "I just realized the place I should have been thinking about all along was the one right here. And everything they said they were going to do, they did."

"Wazzu had really done their research, they knew all about me. And they told me they want me to come to Wazzu, that they think that I'm a great student-athlete. Now, at this time, I've been to Oregon's camp twice, and I've been to their junior day, and I'm getting 5-10 letters a week from Oregon -- and me and Bellotti, we haven't said two words to each other."

A scholarship offer arrived a short time later. So Danzy sat down to write a list of pros and cons.

"After I put it out on paper -- it was Wazzu. It was just Wazzu. There was no need to even waver. And I had always said if I committed early, I wasn't going to be bobbing and weaving on the commitment and taking trips elsewhere. So I called coach Doba and coach Skip and said that 'I want to commit, I want to be a Coug.'"

"I was still getting letters from Cal and Oregon, and its still real early. And people were telling me its early and people change their verbals all the time but this was the perfect match for me. Our team went to the Jerramy Stevens camp and Marcus Trufant was there. He came up to me, said he had heard I had verballed. He knew all about me too, where I was rated and what have you. He said he was happy I was now in the family and he asked me to stay in touch."

"That was different. I wasn't star struck or anything, but the man is driving a Hummer. He's my guy."

"He just told me, 'If you go there and you work hard, good things will happen for you.'", said Danzy. "And that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to lay the hat on some cats."

The recruiting battles between Washington State and Oregon were plentiful this year. In addition to Stewart, a pair of Californians had a final two of Washington State and Oregon. The Cougs and Ducks locked horns for defensive tackle Fevaea'i Ahmu, with WSU coming out on top. Washington State also outdueled Oregon for Carson, Calif., linebacker Lamar Brumfield.

Cougfan Top Stories