WSU academic casualties likely, but not definite

WASHINGTON STATE'S forecast at cornerback is showing more clouds than sunshine with each passing week. Just seven days after WSU said junior Tyron Brackenridge was unlikely to meet NCAA eligibility requirements and become a redshirt, the school's sports information office said today that 2005 prep recruit James Bradley -- thought to be a candidate for immediate playing time at corner -- is looking like he could be an academic casualty as well, along with prep d-lineman Joseph Townsend.

In response to Internet rumors about academic hurdles, the sports information office cautioned that it's too early to definitively say James Bradley and Joseph Townsend will fail to qualify for the 2005 season, but given the cyber chatter on the matter, they acknowledged that Townsend and Bradley have an uphill climb to get to Pullman this fall.

Omowale Dada and Alex Teems are slated to be the Cougars' starting cornerbacks, but depth is a growing concern. Junior Don Turner will be the only other corner on the roster with Pac-10 experience.

Second-year freshman Ian Bell, a redshirt in 2004, looks promising but is coming off an ankle injury sustained in the spring.

Incoming recruits Shelton Danzy, Brandon Gibson and Lorenzo Bursey could be called upon early to shore up the secondary forces. Gibson and Bursey have been targeted for receiver but coach Bill Doba has said each has the skills for corner.

Gibson starred at both receiver and defensive back in last week's 3A/4A All-Star game in Spokane.

The Cougar coaches have never even seen Bursey play corner -- he was a standout running back at West LA College.

Bursey's been playing some corner in skeleton drills in Pullman this summer -- drills in which coaches are not allowed near. The thinking is that it's more because the Cougs are short on bodies at the position than any official move there.

Secondary coach Ken Greene is not only out of the office -- as are most of the WSU staff -- he's actually out of the country, having been in Japan for weeks.

Due to the lack of depth at the corner, Bursey could end up one of those to be considered for duty out on the island but he's also thought of in great regard by the WSU coaches as a special teams player and an offensive weapon.

Washington State oversigned for the 2005 class, taking 25 players all told, with 3-4 of those expected to grayshirt if the entire class qualified. And coach Bill Doba has said since LOI Day in February that a few signees had some academic work to do, so news on Bradley and Townsend potentially failing to qualify isn't a complete shock.

Still, Bradley failing to qualify would be a hit at the corner position -- the Cougs had ideally wanted to take three prep corners in February but signed just two in Bradley and Danzy.

"When will we know?"
It will probably be some time before all the academic verdicts are in on the 2005 class. Washington State is somewhat unique in that even with the green light from the NCAA Clearinghouse, some players will likely still have to go in front of a WSU admissions subcommittee. The Admissions Subcommittee of the Faculty Affairs Committee at WSU last year denied Lawrence Ball --- who had received clearance from the NCAA --- not once but twice.

An error in Ball's transcript produced the first red flag. The committee conducted a phone interview with Ball, and subsequently denied his admission. After the clerical error was corrected -- which boosted Ball's GPA to the point he was virtually right on the line for not having had to go through the WSU appeals process in the first place -- the committee held another meeting but did not re-interview Bell as had been expected, and concluded the denial would stand.

Lawrence Ball was immediately snatched up, signing with Arizona days later.

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