Full speed ahead for Tardy

ON ONE HAND, Jerome Harrison offers plenty of evidence that the Cougar running game will be formidable in 2005. "The Ghost" looked unstoppable at times in 2004, and even more so during spring ball. But depth is unproven beyond Harrison, and a pair of incoming freshmen will get very long looks when fall camp opens next month. One of them, Dwight Tardy, will arrive in Pullman a couple weeks early and says he can't wait to meet the challenge head-on.

Tardy comes across as humble, quiet really. But don't confuse the apparent reservedness with a lack of competitive drive.

"I'm going to go in kamikaze, give 110 percent and just scrap it," said Tardy. "I want to force them to give me some looks. I'm determined."

With Allen Thompson (shoulder) hanging up his cleats a year early and the status of Kevin McCall (8 career carries) likely remaining undetermined until August, the experience behind Harrison is decidedly unproven. Tardy's time could be now rather than later.

"I'm coming into a good situation," said Tardy of the chance to earn playing time as a true frosh. "I am so ready to show them what I got, because I think that I can play (early)."

Tardy (5-11, 203, 4.55) has been hitting the weights four times a week this offseason in preparation for his first Cougar fall camp.

"I might not be the biggest guy out there but I'm going in and giving it everything I've got," said Tardy. "Like I said, I'm going in there kamikaze-like. They're going to think: ‘This guy's got heart.'"

TARDY WILL ARRIVE two weeks early, flying in to Pullman on July 24. Fellow incoming running back DeMaundray Woolridge arrived in Pullman a few days ago.

"I want to get used to the program and learn some plays," said Tardy. "I want to meet the guys and just get situated so that when camp rolls around, I'll be ready to go."

Tardy, who has kept in touch with coaches Kelly Skipper and George Yarno this offseason, was invited to a few post season all-star games but chose to forego them, allowing an injured quad muscle incurred during his senior baseball season to fully heal. The quad has long since been back to 100 percent.

The injury hampered him but he still managed to swipe about 15 bases this year, and helped lead his team to the title game where he went yard in a losing effort. But that's high school baseball and it's over now. These days, Tardy's focus is squarely on Cougar Football.

""I'm really excited because its like my life has been on hold," said Tardy on his pending arrival at Washington State. "And as soon as I get there, my life's going to start again."

TARDY IS A TEXTBOOK EXAMPLE of top talent recruits who still slip under the radar – even those from California.

His high school, St. Paul in tiny Santa Fe Springs, plays much of the time against schools with enrollments twice, sometimes three times, larger. It makes his senior season line all the more impressive -- 236 carries, 2,272 yards, 9.6 ypc.

He rushed for 34 touchdowns in 2004. And he hit paydirt a remarkable and record-setting nine times in a playoff game, scoring on runs of five, six, seven, nine, 15, 41, 41, 46 and 62 yards.

And two other TD runs were called back because of penalties.

With 42 years of coaching experience, including stints at the DivI and junior college levels, St. Paul head man Marijon Ancich is the winningest coach (339 victories) in California high school history. Ancich was incredulous before Tardy's verbal commitment to Washington State at the lack of recruiting attention trained upon Tardy, although the Cougs must have been thrilled with it.

Tardy missed almost his entire junior season with a broken ankle and toe, which may explain some of the lack of recruiting love. Colleges make large numbers of offers before kids have even enrolled for their senior years these days and for some players, highlight tape and preseason camps figure prominently in the early offer. Ancich offered an observation, insight that may prove telling over the course of Tardy's college career.

"He's not going to go out there and run any 4.3 -- but if you had a drill where two guys had to tackle him -- then he would obviously be one of the top guys in that camp."

Dwight Tardy profile

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