WSU atmosphere draws raves from recruits

PERHAPS LOST IN THE DETRITUS of the overtime loss to UCLA, Washington State made significant strides in the recruiting wars this weekend as they officially hosted five prep prospects, including one who has already verbally committed to the Cougars. A tremendous game day atmosphere was cited time and time again, with one weekend visitor marveling at how Martin Stadium was louder than Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State.

Running back Marcus Richmond (6-1, 205) said his first visit to Washington State served to let him know he made the right choice, rating the trip a perfect 10.

Schools continue to recruit Mesa's Richmond despite his June verbal to Washington State back in June. Hardly surprising, considering that seven games into Dobson High's season he's been virtually unstoppable, rushing for 1593 yards while averaging 227.5 yards a game and 8.25 a carry. But Richmond said his verbal was rock solid.

One of the schools working hard to get in on Richmond and calling every chance they get is nearby Arizona State. Richmond took in a game earlier this year at Sun Devil Stadium and said the atmosphere at Martin Stadium was more highly charged.

"I was surprised, I didn't figure they would be so into it -- even louder and rowdier than at the ASU game," said Richmond of the Cougar Faithful.

Richmond said the loss to UCLA was a tough one, but he sees better days on the horizon.

"I thought that we fought to the end," he said. "Just little things that can be fixed, and that's going to happen."

Watching senior running back Jerome Harrison and a smash mouth offensive line were among the highlights for Richmond. "The Ghost" rushed for 260 yards in a performance Richmond called "sensational."

"I liked that," said Richmond of the offensive line. "And that's what I'm looking for, too."

Among those Richmond spent time with were Xavier Hicks and Ian Bell, saying they and the rest of the Cougar players made him feel right at home.

"Everybody treated me like I was part of the team already," said Richmond. "I felt I fit right in."

A RECRUIT WHO also made to feel right at home courtesy of host Kenny Alfred, was fellow offensive lineman Cody Habben.

"I had a great time with my host, Kenny Alfred," said Habben. "It was a lot of fun hanging out with him. He's a really nice guy. He's huge."

The hoss from Sammamish's Skyline High said the college game day atmosphere at Washington State was extraordinary.

"Well shoot, you know how I always talk about how a stadium is, how the fans are," said Habben. "That was probably a perfect example of how great it is over there, the atmosphere. It was crazy. Those third downs, you couldn't hear anything else but (crowd noise)."

Habben's parents drove over and took in the weekend experience with their son.

"They loved it," said Habben. "They had a great time. They thought the coaches were awesome. They said the coaches were really nice and they liked them a lot, and same with me too."

Habben said the performance by the offensive line and "The Ghost" was more than impressive. The opening drive saw left tackle Bobby Byrd coming across to the right side, leading the way more than 30 yards downfield to on Harrison's first score of the day."

"That was awesome, just seeing that," said Habben. "Oh man, he was chasing down that safety. Me and my dad both noticed that -- We were amazed by that. That set up the touchdown right there."

Habben, especially Sunday, spent a good chunk of time talking with offensive line coach George Yarno.

"I thought I wouldn't be able to see him that much but I actually saw coach Yarno quite a bit," said Habben. "That was cool. He said he was really happy with the offensive line's effort."

Habben will trip to Oregon State possibly later this month, and to Iowa State in December with the other two visits yet to be determined. He holds offers from Washington State, Oregon State, Iowa State, Colorado, Utah, ASU, Washington, and his latest offer came this past Friday from Oregon. Cal is another school that has shown considerable interest, with Habben sending his tape to Jeff Tedford and crew a few days ago.

Washington State was the first official visit for Habben, and he said he needs something to compare it with, but said the trip to the Palouse set the bar very high.

"It was awesome," said Habben. "I had a great time over there."

SHUTDOWN CORNERBACK Vincent Joseph also sung the praises of Washington State.

"It was real fun," said Joseph. "They played a real good game...I was real impressed by how they played."

When the crowd wasn't cheering the action on the field, they spent some of their time chanting Joseph's name.

"The game atmosphere was real cool," said Vincent. "A lot of people knew my name, they were calling my name, fans in the stands....that game was real fun."

Ian Bell and Courtney Williams were among the Cougar players Vincent enjoyed hanging out with on the trip, also saying he had plenty of food to eat.

"I'm so full," laughed Vincent. "I can't eat any more. If I go there, I'm going to have to have an appetite because Dang, I had some food in my face this weekend."

Vincent said other than being a little surprised by a brief change in the weather when the wind kicked up, he liked his first of five official visits a lot.

"Man, I wasn't used to that," he said. "Other than that, the coaches were cool. The players were cool. The facilities, the town around it was real cool. It's a college town...Everything was close by."

Joseph has done considerable research and can cite chapter and verse on the depth chart and departing seniors at cornerback on the schools he's interested in, which besides Washington State include Southern Cal, Oregon, Colorado and Cal.

Vincent said he'll probably need to take all of his trips before deciding how things will shake out. He travels to Colorado next week and then to Oregon in November.

We'll have more from two other prospects who made the trip, Arizona receiver Xavier Lucas and Seattle receiver prospect Jeffrey Solomon, later on

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