Oh Canada! Cougs have long tapped talent up north

As long-time Cougar watchers know, the recruiting hunting grounds for WSU north of the border are not bountiful but usually fruitful. Hank Grenda, Rob Meier, Rueben Mayes, Brian Forde, Don Sweet, Ted Gerela, Glenn Harper, and the Pimiskern brothers are among the Canadians who have made hay at Ol' Wazzu over the years. That pipeline of talent is continuing in a BIG way.

With the February signing of 6-7 1/2, 290-pound offensive lineman Joey Eppele, the Cougars now have three guys from north of the border who figure to knock some serious heads before all is said and done.

The headliner, of course, is senior defensive end Adam Braidwood (6-5, 265) of Delta, B.C., who could contend for post-season honors in 2005.

Also on the defensive line is second-year freshman tackle Jon Conlin, another product of Vancouver Prep. He blew a knee as a true freshman in 2003 and saw limited action last season. Since coming to Pullman he's put 35 pounds on his 6-3 frame and now tips the scales at around 280.

Eppele, though, is the mother lode. He only recently turned 17 and appears to still be growing. Equally notable is that he's very mobile and athletic, which would put him in line to be a classis left tackle.

A two-way all-conference performer and one of the nation's premier junior hammer throwers and shot putters in Canada, the Cougars will likely grayshirt Eppele in 2005, delaying full-time enrollment to January -- effectively gaining him an extra year of eligibility.

Lest you think the talent pipeline only flows south, rest assured that Ol' Wazzu has repaid the bounty many times over in the form of north-bound stars such as Hugh Campbell, George Reed, Brian Kelly and By Bailey --- all of whom are in the CFL Hall of Fame --- as well as a plethora of all stars such as Mike Walker, Gerry Shaw, Garner Ekstran, Anthony McClanhan and, most recently, Singor Mobley and Bryan Chiu.

Chiu, a Vancouver Prep product who came to WSU when College of the Pacific discontinued football, is today one of the dominant offensive linemen in Canada. A perennial all-star center for the Montreal Alouettes -- and 2002 CFL offensive lineman of the year --- he's entering his ninth season north of the border.

Mobley, meanwhile, has used his three-years as a safety with the Dallas Cowboys in the mid-1990s as a springboard to stardom with the Edmonton Eskimos over the last eight seasons.

The Pride of Tacoma, and a cornerstone of WSU's legendary Palouse Posse defense, he's now a linebacker considered one of the CFL's marquee players --- as well as one of it's most marketable. Google his name and you're likely to find a long list of stories regarding his community outreach work.

The analysis on this year's Canadian crop of potential D-IA talent is both early and incomplete. There are, however, a number of intriguing players beginning to surface. It's a Cougar pipeline that bears watching, not for the lengthy scroll of future stars on the horizon, but for the crimson celestial body or two that will shine most brightly in the Palouse sky.

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