Recruiting boon: Summer camp underway

IF PAST IS PROLOGUE, WSU will come out of its annual summer camp that begins today with a verbal commitment or three -- if not at the conclusion of the sessions, then shortly thereafter. The camp for kids and high schoolers has been a boon to Cougar recruiting over the years. Brandon Gibson wasn't expected to garner an offer a year ago, but his camp work --- like unheralded Will Derting and Pat Bennett before him -- was so explosive that he was offered and accepted, a scholarship at camp's end.

BACK IN 2000, Okanogan coach Denny Neely was trying to get the Huskies to take a look at Derting. Hitting a brick wall, he asked coach Bill Doba at a football clinic to take a look at Derting's tape. Doba almost made the same mistake as his cross state rival, instead telling Neely to send the tape on the linebacker to the WSU coach who handled eastern Washington.

"We didn't know about him either," Doba said of Derting during a press conference last season.

Fortunately for the Cougs, the tape didn't lay on a shelf gathering dust and Derting was invited to camp. WSU coaches got a chance to see the talent live and in person, and that was all it took. Derting immediately accepted the full ride when it was offered after the camp had come to a close.

Per NCAA rules, during summer camps, a recruit has to leave campus before a school can offer.

AT THE SAME camp, Bennett emerged. Coming from a 2A school, the Forks, Wash., native had yet to have his breakout senior campaign, and running back was where he garnered most of his acclaim but the Cougs saw him as a linebacker from Day One.

WSU put him on defense on the same side as Derting and the pair tore it up. It was Bennett's second WSU camp and feeling a special connection with Doba, he knew Pullman was the place for him. After camp, Doba and the WSU coaches knew it too, and the offer was made.

Shortly thereafter, in the second week of July, Bennett became a Coug.

AT LAST YEAR'S camp, Gibson caught everything near him on his way to taking home co-MVP honors. Already in the Cougar fold, Shelton Danzy and Arkelon Hall watched appreciatively during the sessions, until they started to urgently look around for a Cougar coach they could talk to about getting the wide receiver in the crimson and gray.

The Cougar coaches had already taken notice, and Gibson was offered at the conclusion of the camp and accepted. With the early verbal, and because at Puyallup's Rogers High, they run it more than they throw it, rival schools didn't have much of an incentive to go after him. They might regret that.

Gibson has an excellent chance to be one of those players the Cougar Nation marvels at in the years to come, wondering how in the heck this guy slipped through the cracks of other schools besides WSU.

He's put on about 20 pounds since last season, with 190-pounds spread out over his 6-foot-1 frame, which should serve him well in all areas of his game including blocking, a key component in the WSU offense. Gibson is a perfectionist and a precise route runner, with an already keen understanding of all the things a wide receiver does besides catch the ball to make an offense successful.

He's also a talented defensive back, and Doba has mentioned he could certainly play in the defensive backfield if necessary, but all things being equal, look for him on offense at WSU.

OTHER PLAYERS in recent years who have verballed at the conclusion of the WSU summer camp include Andy Roof and Eddie Vickers, two offensive linemen who along with fellow redshirt freshman Dan Rowlands, look to be the future of the Cougar offensive line.

Over 600 prospects are expected to descend upon WSU during the 2005 Cougars summer camp. The four day event runs Wednesday through Saturday. The WSU camp has always been a key component but with recruiting trending more and more towards early verbals, its taken on added significance in order to keep up with Joneses. As such, the newest members of the Cougar family could be just days away from joining the crimson fold.

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