Cougs first to offer in-state hoss

<b>SPRING FOOTBALL is a time to lay the groundwork for the upcoming season. But it's also the time when prospective recruits can trip to Pullman and get their first taste of Cougar Football. One player from the westside of the state was on the campus of Washington State this past weekend and before he departed, he had a scholarship offer in hand from the Cougs -- the third hoss from the state of Washington to receive an offer from the Cougs.

The 2006 crop of offensive linemen in the state of Washington is decidedly deeper than last year's class.

Cody Habben spent this past weekend on the Washington State campus, taking in the Cougar spring ball experience. He came away decidedly impressed.

"That was fun," Habben said. "A lot of fun."

Habben (OL, 6-5, 260) traveled over the pass to to watch a little spring football and meet the Cougar coaches and players. He was just busy taking it all in, thoroughly enjoying himself and then coach Bill Doba did something the Issaquah, Wash., resident wasn't expecting.

"We were sitting there talking about other stuff," said Habben. "Then he slid the paper across and said, 'I'd like you to become a Cougar,' or words to that effect... I was in awe, I couldn't believe it happened this early."

The offer is the first for the Skyline High standout, with the Cougs tied at the top of his list with Nebraska. Habben was born in Omaha, has extended family in the area and has followed Cornhusker Football since he can remember.

In addition to WSU and Nebraska, Habben is also being recruited by the likes of Washington, Oregon, Boise State and Army.

AMONG THE HIGHLIGHTS this weekend for Habben, spending time with the WSU staff -- with line coach George Yarno fitting to a tee the profile of what Habben likes in a position coach.

"I'd like to play for a coach that can joke around but when it's time to get serious, he gets serious," said Habben. "(Yarno) was a nice guy and he was exactly like that. He was joking around with the kids but when it was time to get serious, he was cracking the whip. I liked him a lot."

Among the factors that will influence his decision, the coaches, facilities and location. Habben prefers more of a rural setting such as that found at Washington State and Nebraska rather than a school in a big city. The support a program has from the surrounding community is also important to Habben, saying it's nice when so much revolves around the football team.

"I like how a whole town gets behind a school, like at Wazzu and Nebraska," said Habben.

THIS OFFSEASON, Habben is working on improving his strength, speed and quickness. He was in the weight room when we first tried to reach him.

Habben was a key reason why Skyline averaged 34 points a game and played for the 4A title last season. Behind Habben and the offensive line in '04, the Spartans were a balanced offensive force, rolling up 2,500 yards on the ground and racking up 4,739 yards of total offense. On the way, they knocked off defending state champions and highly favored No. 1 Pasco in a semifinal thriller.

For his efforts, Habben was named a member of the Seattle Times all-star team in 2004.

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