At last Friday's annual Pierce County Cougar Club coaches' dinner, a crowd of nearly 400 crimson faithful heard those words early and often as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Robin Pflugrad took them through a player-by-player analysis of each of the 20 newest members of the Cougar family.
Here's a run down on some of what Pflugrad --- a confessed recruiting junkie highly regarded throughout the West --- had to say about the class of 2005:
DT Fevaea'i Ahmu (Sierra High/San Diego)
Gets nice pad level and is very strong. Has a chance to play as a true freshman. Rated the No. 22 defensive tackle prospect in the nation by Scout.com. Also an honorable mention Best in the West pick. Posted 175 tackles, including 22 sacks, over his last two prep seasons. WSU defensive coordinator Robb Akey says there's a chance this 290-pounder could play in 2005.
The No. 1 offensive line prospect in the state of Washington and consensus All-State pick, he pancaked the opposing lineman in every clip shown. Tenacious blocker who doesn't stop until his man is down or the play is whistled. Dad played ball at Western Washington and brother is playing at Eastern Washington.
(South Garland High/Garland, Texas)
"He reminds me of Jason David," said Pflugrad. While his five INTs and eight pass break ups in '04 were impressive, no stat spoke more to Pflugrad about Bradley's athleticism than the seven field goals and PATs he blocked, one of which he picked up and returned to paydirt. "Do you know how hard it is to block a PAT?" Pflugrad asked. "It's incredibly difficult, and this guy blocked seven in one season."
LB Lamar Brumfield (Carson High/Lynnwood, Calif.)
A physical player and sure tackler who will only get stronger and faster. "After a redshirt year, he will be the real deal," said Pflugrad. A two-time all-league pick, he registered more than 200 tackles over the last two seasons.
WR Lorenzo Bursey (Long Beach, Calif./West Los Angeles College)
Moves galore, Pflugrad called him an "electrifying-type player." Starred at running back in high school and in one year of JC ball, but projects as a slotback for the Cougars. He'll also return kicks. Bill Doba thinks there's a chance he could start in 2005. Speedy and light (170) but has power when the going gets tough. Will have three years to play three.
DB Shelton Danzy (Rainier Beach/Seattle)
Great quickness and body control, he starred on both sides of the ball in high school. He projects as a cornerback and was rated one of the top 50 prospects in the land at that position. Akey says he could have a shot at early playing time. Doba says his athleticism makes him a fit at a number of positions. His gregarious personality will make him a huge asset in recruiting, too, Pflugrad said. Last April Danzy became the earliest verbal commitment in WSU history.
OL Joey Eppele (Vancouver Prep/Vancouver, B.C.)
He continues a crimson trend, becoming the third Cougar signee from British Columbia in the last four years, joining Jon Conlin and Adam Braidwood. One of the top hammer and shot putters in Canada. Has a big frame (6-8, 270) that appears to be tailor-made for left tackle. Starred on both sides of the ball in high school. Figures to grayshirt in 2005 and enroll in January.
LB Cory Evans (Northwood High/Lena, La.)
A devastating hitter from a tiny school in rural Louisiana, he flew under the radar of most major colleges until his prep coach sent a tape to an old friend, WSU graduate assistant Don Bartel. Cougar linebackers coach Leon Burtnett, the former Purdue head coach and Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator, took one look and then flew to Louisiana. "He played in the lowest classification of 11-man ball in the state for a very small school. Here in Washington, it would be similar to playing at Washtucna or Ritzville, so the majors down there didn't pay a lot of attention.," Pflugrad said. "He had offers from virtually every smaller school in that region so we had to work hard to convince his mom that traveling so far from home was going to be OK."
Doba calls him the steal of the class. Pflugrad says his size (6-2, 190), speed and catching ability remind him of Jason Hill when he was coming out of high school. "We're going to throw him to the wolves early and see if he can make the two-deep roster," Pflugrad said. "He catches the ball high, cuts at full speed and has a nice extra gear for a tall, big guy." Gibson was discovered at WSU's summer camp last year, showing tremendous agility and catching everything thrown anywhere near him.
QB Arkelon Hall (Edison High/Fresno)
"A tremendous recruit, rated as high as No. 8 in the nation for quarterbacks. He has good feet, a good mind, can throw on the run and is a real leader with a fun personality," said Pflugrad. Hall threw for 5,000 yards over his final two varsity campaigns. He is the first-ever WSU signee from the prestigious Elite Eleven national quarterback camp.
A complete athlete, starring at QB, DB and punter. Rated one of the top 50 safety prospects in the nation, he was his league's MVP and a first-team all-area choice on defense by the Los Angeles Times. Threw for 1,661 yards and rushed for another 809, averaging 8 yards per carry. His elusive work at quarterback reminded Pflugrad of another one-time prep QB who plays for the Cougs: Michael Bumpus. He is the nephew of early 90s WSU back Kevin Hicks.
OL Derek Hunter (LaHabra, Calif./Fullerton College)
This 6-4, 285-pounder could see immediate playing time at either guard or tackle. Has four years to play three. He drives hard off the ball and finishes plays. Over the last three seasons --- one prep and two JC --- he's helped running backs gallop for more than 5,000 yards. His teams went a collective 24-11 in that span, while he earned first-team all-league plaudits.
DB DeWayne Patterson (Redlands, Calif./Chaffey College)
The No. 1 JC defensive back on the Cougars' get list. "He's a great athlete and a physical, physical player," Pflugrad said. Posted 140 tackles over the past two seasons, helping Chaffey to a 17-5 record. As a senior at Carson High, he was team captain and earned all-league and all-county honors. Registered more than 200 tackles over his junior and senior seasons. With three starting spots open in the Cougar secondary, he should get a long look in August.
LB Jason Stripling (Robert E. Lee High/Tyler, Texas)
Voted the defensive MVP in the eastern region of Texas as he helped his team to the Class 5A (largest classification) state title. Projects as a safety or outside linebacker. "He's got it all and has excellent break on the ball," says Pflugrad.
RB Dwight Tardy (St. Paul High/ Santa Fe Springs, Calif.)
"A tremendous athlete and great baseball player. He lulls defenders and then kicks into a higher gear. He's also tough. We'll give him a nice look early on," said Pflugrad. Tardy was a stat machine last season, racking up 2,272 ground yards and 34 TDs, catching 14 passes for 153 yards and logging another 154 hashes in kick returns. Scored nine TDs on one game. Named first-team All-Region by the Los Angeles Times.
DT Bryan Tarkington (Woodland Hills, Calif./Moorpark College)
Moves well and finishes plays. Akey says he'll have a chance to play early. "He had 16 sacks last season --- not bad for an interior lineman," quipped Pflugrad. Committed to Oklahoma out of high school but went the JC route due to academic hurdles. Earned all-league honors this past season after posting 78 tackles, forcing seven fumbles, recovering seven more and deflecting five passes. Chose WSU over Michigan State and Colorado State. Stands 6-3 and weighs 290.
DT Joseph Townsend (Valley Christian High/San Jose)
Doesn't turn 18 until this summer and already stands 6-4 and weighs 270. He runs the 40 in 4.9 seconds. A two-time all-league choice on a team that went 23-3 in his junior and seniors seasons and won championships both years. Rated one of the top 30 overall players in Northern California. "We got to him late and were fortunate he hadn't committed anywhere yet," said Pflugrad. "He's got great strength and is going to get bigger."
LB Greg Trent (Keller High/Keller, Texas)
"A true middle linebacker with the best looking body of anyone in the class. He's quick and strong --- a bit like Scott Davis," said Pflugrad. Had a remarkable 254 tackles over his junior and senior seasons --- and he missed a third of his senior year due to injury. Was region's defensive player of the year as a junior. Runs a 4.5 40.
LB Courtney Williams (Dorsey High/Los Angeles)
"He qualified (academically) late, but when he did it set off a recruiting frenzy," said Pflugrad. "We beat every Pac-10 school to get him." The 6-2, 205-pounder can flat-out fly. Among the 80-plus tackles he racked up this season, 26 of them were sacks. He is ranked among the top 400-meter prep sprinters in all of California. Named Los Angeles defensive player of the year and defensive lineman of the year by The LA Times.
"He runs the 100 in 10.5. He's not tall but stout (5-9, 215), fast and physical with quick feet --- reminds me a lot of Jerome Harrison and Jonathon Smith. A bit of a Bo Jackson-type runner but not as big," said Pflugrad. Rushed for 900 yards in a pass-first offense in 2004. Goes by the name "D." Dad played ball at LSU.