WASHINGTON STATE has secured the fourth known verbal commitment --- and the second prep running back --- of its 2006 class in the form of Skylar Jessen, the 5-11, 200-pound star out of Spokane's Mead High. Jessen spoke about the reasons why he chose WSU on a local television station moments ago.

It was a battle between the Cougars and Beavers but in the end, Skylar Jessen chose the crimson and gray.

"I've decided...I'm picking WSU," said Jessen as he put on a Cougar hat Tuesday afternoon.

Jessen left for practice immediately after his announcement and didn't return home until well after 10pm.

"I feel about 100 pounds lighter now," Jessen said late this evening, going on to mention he can now turn his full attention to his senior season.

Jessen, who will join Mead teammate and four star prospect Andy Mattingly at Washington State, chose WSU over offers from Oregon State, Boston College, Harvard and Eastern, and also received what amounts to a full scholarship to run track at Brown.

Another Mead product, offensive guard Charles Harris, is a starter for the Cougars this season and on his last visit to Pullman, Jessen spent time with yet another Panthers graduate, defensive tackle Mark Matthey.

Jessen said he wants to put on about 10 more pounds to his 5-11, 200-pound frame by the time he gets to Washington State.

JESSEN TALKED TO coach Bill Doba a couple days ago and then coaches Robin Pflugrad and Kelly Skipper today but after his announcement -- he said the WSU coaches didn't know, for sure, until after the television interview.

The unofficial visit to Pullman coming on the heels of a trip to Corvallis sealed the deal for Jessen. Jessen came away from the OSU visit high on the Beavs, but after taking one last visit to Washington State, he knew it was the place for him.

"I seriously thought I was probably going to Oregon State," remarked Jessen. "But I went to WSU and you know, the coaches there....And it was way different hanging out with the players, partly because I knew them."

Jessen said the closeness to home was also a big factor, saying his parents were pleased as could be with his choice.

MEAD COACH Sean Carty says Jessen has deceptive speed, inducing opponents to take the wrong angle. Plus, he has a gift for setting defenders up as they approach, and some power to go along with it.

"He looks like he's not running very fast -- but he's fast," said Carty. "He's powerful. If he does come into the mix, he can lower the boom. He's a nice mix of everything." On grass, Jessen was timed at 4.47 in the 40 at the Eugene NIKE combine a year ago.

Despite suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2, Jessen gained 960 yards on only 105 carries with 14 TDs last season. The injury forced him to miss time and severely limited his mobility the rest of the year.

Jessen said the ankle is fully healed.

"Oh its perfect," said Jessen. "I feel 100 times faster, stronger and wiser about hitting holes than I did my sophomore season. I don't even feel it at all to tell you the truth. When I was at the NIKE combine I could feel it every once in a while...but now I can't even tell. And I don't even tape it or anything.

As a sophomore, Jessen gained 1,965 yards on 190 carries -- a 10.6 yard average. He was named league offensive MVP while earning first team All-GSL honors on the way to setting the single-season league scoring record with 34 TDs.

In the weight room, Jessen has a vertical in the 30 to 33 inch range and bench presses 320-pounds. Academically, he carries a 3.5 GPA. His junior track season was cut short as he continued to rehab the ankle but as a sophomore, he routinely clocked a sub 10.8 in the 100.

The four known verbal commitments to the 2006 Washington State class are: Jessen, Mattingly, Arizona running back Marcus Richmond and Bellevue wide receiver Keith Rosenberg.

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