Cougars TE search coming into focus

A TIGHT END needs to be an outstanding receiver, run blocker and pass protector -- a rare combination. The Cougs have a number of tight end prospects they're looking at, including both prep and JC playmakers. Here's a closer look at four of them: Trevor Mooney, Jason Price, Rob Overton and Anthony McCoy.

With Troy Bienemann graduating, Cody Boyd a senior-to-be and Ben Woodard and others yet to gain appreciable game experience, Washington State may bolster their coffers with two tight ends this class -- provided the quality and potential is there.

AN INTRIGUING PROSPECT who bears watching over the final weeks before Signing Day -- Rob Overton out of Hayward, Calif., about 45 minutes outside of San Francisco.

Here's a guy with a a 6-foot-6 frame, and a four star rating as the No. 7 tight end in the nation. And no offers. What's wrong with this picture?

Probably a combination of factors help to explain. "Recruiting gurus" likes him more than the schools do, obviously. But he's also been flying under the radar. Overton plays at Moreau Catholic, not exactly a recruiting hotbed. Moreau was 0-10 this year. There are 36 players total listed on Moreau's varsity roster, with 22 of them listed at 5-9 or less. More than half the OL/DL on the roster are also listed at 5-9 or less.

And then there's this -- Overton just sent out his tape only three weeks ago.

Since his tape went out, however, Washington State, Colorado State, San Jose State, Idaho and others have been calling. Most schools are telling him he could play on either side of the ball but most, including WSU, appear to be primarily recruiting him at tight end, his position of preference. Recent in-homes with San Jose State and San Diego will be followed by Colorado State this week, and he trips to Idaho Friday. Washington State, however, is his leader.

"I've noticed a lot more interest since my tapes went out, schools calling me out of the blue," said Overton. "They're all even but Washington State's kind of standing out right now because of (the chance) to play Pac-10 football."

Even with opponents focusing primarily on Overton, he still hauled in 56 catches for 796 yards and 9 TDs this season. He had around 65 tackles including 10 for loss and three sacks, four fumble recoveries and one forced fumble at the defensive end spot. Overton, an outstanding student, maintains a 3.0 GPA and scored a 1400 on his SAT.

ALSO OUT OF California, Washington State is high on Mission Viejo's Trevor Mooney and the feeling is mutual. But the Cougs also have competition.

Besides WSU, Mooney now holds offers from Oregon, Oregon State, Utah, Colorado State and San Diego State with Arizona possibly on the verge. Since in-home visits began a week and a half ago, Washington State, Oregon, Utah, Arizona and Colorado State have all knocked on his door. WSU coach George Yarno broke bread with the Mooneys last week.

"I actually made (Yarno) dinner," Mooney laughed. "He was here for about two hours and we couldn't stop talking. We just talked forever."

Mooney's second official visit was to Oregon this past weekend. He has trips upcoming this weekend and next to Arizona and Utah, respectively. Mooney said the Oregon visit went very well as did his trip to Washington State.

He will likely not make a final decision until after his visits, possibly as early as the tail end of December, but it could also come sometime next month with the possibility of a fifth trip, to Oregon State, on Jan. 13. Over the next two weeks, Mooney expects to have plenty more in-homes, with several position and head coaches scheduled to come by.

Out of Trabuco Hills High, Mooney is an outstanding blocker who didn't have many opportunities to show off his receiving skills, but the book on him is he has great hands. An exceptional student with a 4.25 GPA on a 4.00 scale at Trabuco Hills, Mooney scored a 1900 (scale 2400) on the new SAT.

AMONG THOSE PREP recruits in the crimson orbit, tight end/receiver prospect Anthony McCoy (6-4, 220, 4.6). Southern Cal (leader), California and Fresno State are the frontrunners, with Washington State scheduled for a visit Jan. 13, but that trip to Pullman appears contingent on if McCoy doesn't make an earlier call.

"I might not be going to Washington State, (depending on) if I did commit to a school before that," said McCoy.

His upcoming schedule shows an in-home with USC Thursday, and then trips to Fresno State this weekend, followed next weekend by an official to USC. McCoy, who also has some academic issues to get straightened out, also said Nebraska is no longer on his radar.

"That's a "No", on Nebraska," said McCoy. "Just because they're recruiting me as an outside 'backer and that's not what I wanted to go as."

McCoy went on to say he'd prefer to play receiver at the next level.

A PLAYER PROFILED earlier this week on CF.C, junior college tight end Jason Price was a diamond in the Texas rough -- until about 48 hours ago. Price, out of Trinity Valley College located about 70 miles southeast of Dallas, will be in Pullman on an official visit to Washington State this weekend.

But others are now lurking. Washington and New Mexico each called Price for the first time on Monday, telling him they're "highly interested." Michigan State, who along with WSU has been recruiting Price the hardest, drops by today. It was last week, however, that WSU was in town, when coaches Leon Burtnett and Robin Pflugrad watched Price run routes and catch passes during a Trinity Valley College practice.

"I did some drills when they were here and I think it went well," said Price.

Price is considered by some to be raw, but not many 6-foot-4 and 250 pound guys can clock a 4.6 in the 40. He also squats 575, bench presses 390 and has a 31 inch vertical. He's a person of high character, according to Trinity Valley coach Mark Sartain, who also said he thinks Price can flourish under a good tight ends coach at the next level.

In addition to WSU, MSU, UW and UNM, Price has also heard from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas State and Louisiana Monroe and others this recruiting season. He says WSU is the frontrunner.

"Washington State is," said Price. "They're the only one that's been legitimate with me."

But location could also end up being a factor, with Price having very strong family ties in Texas. For more on Price, click on this link: Cougs look to Texas again; big TE high on WSU

Future Cougar Andy Mattingly -- who will be one of the gems of the 2006 WSU class -- could become a heck of a tight end for Washington State, but it could prove too difficult not to put him on defense. Mattingly, who could play linebacker or even possibly at safety, hits like a Mack truck, meted out a number of punishing hits this year at Mead High in Spokane. On one play in particular, Mattingly had to have the buttons on his helmet replaced after they went flying, as did the ballcarrier, who then slammed into another player. Although not down as long as the ballcarrier, even the second player was very slow to get to his feet.

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