WSU ground game draws attention of Diederichs

WITH ONE FINAL bowl game on tap this weekend before capping his junior college career, the focus for running back J.T. Diederichs now begins to shift to the next level. Travel plans to the university that signed him out of high school, Washington State, are set for Dec. 10. An All-American last season at Dixie State in St. George, Utah, Diederichs has taken note of WSU's success on the ground this season plus the fact three offensive line starters are back in 2006.

Diederichs says a key consideration in his decision will be a team's offensive line and how well a school runs the ball. As such, the 6-foot-2, 230 pound back kept tabs on what Washington State did this year in that regard, as the Cougar hosses up front paved the way for the nation's leading rusher Jerome Harrison.

"The offensive line, that's where it starts," said Diederichs. "They have a bunch of good fellas on their offensive line. Obviously, it's one of the best offensive lines in the country."

Down in Utah, Diederichs was still able to catch a little of the Apple Cup and a few Washington State games this year.

"Oh man, Harrison's a good back," said Diederichs. "He's real good. But you also have to give credit to the offensive line there. They certainly did their part."

Three starters return in 2006 for the Cougars up front: left tackle Bobby Byrd, left guard Sean O'Connor and right tackle Charles Harris, plus veteran tight end Cody Boyd.

HIS FIRST OFFICIAL visit will be to Washington State on Dec. 9, followed by a trip to Louisville on Dec. 16, and then January visits to Oregon State and Utah with dates to be determined.

Washington State, Louisville and Utah are currently recruiting the hardest, Diederichs said.

"Everybody is even, I'm just kind of playing it fair," he said. "I'll start to begin breaking it down after the season is over."

A WESTERN STATES Football League first-team selection again this season, Diederichs is poised to top the 1,000 yard mark for the second straight year if he gains 89 yards or more in the Rotary Bowl Saturday against Garden State. Missing one game due to a concussion, Diederichs currently sits at 912 yards, averaging 4.7 a carry with 16 touchdowns.

Diederichs burst onto the junior college scene last year, capturing first team junior All-American honors as he averaged 6.4 yards a carry and 145 hashes per game. As a freshman, he piled up 1740 yards rushing with 22 touchdowns.

He signed with Washington State in 2004 out of Ballard High in Seattle before academic hurdles necessitated the stint at Dixie State. Diederichs will have three to play two at the next level after receiving his AA degree this spring.

Dixie State freshman Keauntea Bankhead, a teammate of Diederichs at Ballard High, also earned first-team WSFL honors. Headed into the bowl game, "Key" has racked up 60 tackles (37 solo) from his safety spot including 9.5 for loss. Bankhead's also logged one quarterback sack, five pass interceptions, five pass breakups, one fumble recovery and returned a punt for a touchdown. Originally signing with the UW in 04, Bankhead said he intends to enroll at Washington State after his junior college turn but that all his options also remain open and it is early in the game. The 6-0, 220-pounder enrolled at Dixie this past January and will have one more year at Dixie State before receiving his AA, making him eligible to be part of a 2007 class.

J.T. Diederichs profile

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