Cougars offer electric running back

THE INK IS HARDLY dry on 2005 letters of intent and already Washington State has made a bushel basket of scholarship offers for 2006. The latest known offer is to a Fresno running back who lit up the valley last year. He's attracting the attention of the entire Pac-10, and beyond, but the Cougars are in the fight early. CF.C talks with both player and coach in a candid interview.

WSU, Cal and Fresno State have already offered the Clovis East star, with USC and Ohio State both coming on strong of late. In January, Slocum said USC would be his top choice, but now says he has no frontrunner.

Clovis East coach Tim Murphy says Slocum (5-10, 195) is already a guy who can play on Saturdays. He has breakaway speed, power and an aresenal of wicked cuts. And yet, Murphy says, he hasn't even scratched the surface of what he's capable of doing.

"I tell him he uses about 80 percent of his talent although he doesn't like hearing that," said Murphy with a laugh. "He's got a really good combination of speed, power and the ability to make people miss. He's probably got as good a combination of that as you can have."

Players with natural ability --- especially at the high school level --- can sometimes be lulled into complacency because the chasm between them and the rest is so great, Murphy says. So he and his coaching staff are pushing Slocum hard in the weight room and both on and off the field. He said Slocum is now beginning to realize the benefits of developing that stronger work ethic.

"I've never said this about any other kid that I've coached -- he can play on Sundays IF he puts it all together," said Murphy. "But it's going to be up to him.

"You can put in the (tough love) part --- he needs to hear it," said Murphy with a chuckle. "He could take his game to the highest level."

LAST YEAR, SLOCUM ran wild in the Tri River Athletic Conference to the tune of 1,800-plus yards and 22 TDs -- and that basically came in just 8 games.

Slocum broke an ankle in Week 9 although he tried to play through what he hoped was just a bad sprain at the time. He attempted to come back in the playoffs but was mostly used as a blocker and was nowhere near healthy. The ankle is now fully healed and Slocum said he'll be running track this spring, focusing on the 100-meters and long jump.

The thought of attending college is still a far off concept for him but Slocum has a few things in mind of what he'll be looking for over the coming year.

"Tradition, academics and a good coaching staff," he said. "I'd like to play for a coach that relates well to me."

Spring plans include a probable trip to Stanford for the NIKE camp and maybe others. Slocum was named The Fresno Bee's Player of the Year in 2004 as he set a number of school records in rushing and scoring. Among the other honors he received -- first team all-league, all-valley and all-state under-class.

Tracy Slocum profile

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