Recruiting news: Cougs feel the need for speed

WORD DOWN California way is that <b>Mike Walker</b> and other WSU coaches, including head man <b>Mike Price</b>, are wearing out the soles of their shoes making the rounds to local high schools as they lay the ground work for the next class of Cougar recruits. And by the looks of some of the guys getting early crimson offers, it seems WSU has a theme in mind: Speed Kills.

Walker, the defensive line coach who masterfully handles a big chunk of WSU's California recruiting, is said to be making some serious inroads in the Golden State again this month --- the annual 30-day period the NCAA sets aside for college coaches to visit their prep counterparts --- counterparts who just happen to have certain athletes standing outside the office when college recruiters are walking in the door.

The Cougars have made a number of early scholarship offers to kids who figure to be heavily wooed in the fall. While it's rare that a kid accepts at this stage of the game, an early offer tends to stick in the mind of the recruit. As one analyst is fond of saying, "You never forget who showed you love before everyone else."

The biggest splash the Cougars have made this May, as we reported a week ago, was the unprecedented offer of scholarships to seven players from one high school, national power Long Beach Poly, on one day.

Perhaps the most intriguing athlete in that group of seven is quarterback Leon Jackson (6-0, 176). Intriguing because he didn't play much last year. But his raw physical talent, coupled with an incredible showing at the recent Nike Camp in Los Angeles, has turned heads. Greg Biggins at PacWest Football says he has a strong arm, quick release and swift feet. WSU and Kansas have offered scholarships so far, with Notre Dame, Miami, USC, UCLA and Cal among those who are lurking.

Jackson is the second QB prospect known to have received an offer from WSU this spring. The other is Johnny Durocher of Bethel High in Spanaway, Wash. See May 1 CF.C article for details on him.

Among the other high-profile skill players on the crimson radar screen are:

* WR/DB B.J. Vickers (6-3, 207. 4.4), Venice, Calif. In 2001 he snagged 66 passes for more than 1,500 yard and 16 TDs. At safety, he picked off five balls and made 67 tackles. Biggins describes him as strong, fast and explosive. He has offers from WSU, USC, Cal and others.

* WR/DB Sam DeSa (5-10, 185, 4.4), Monte Vista, Calif. In 2001, this Bay Area standout grabbed 65 passes for more than 1,200 yards and 10 TDs. On defense, he pulled down three INTs, returning two for touchdowns. He earned all-league and all-area honors on both sides of the ball. According to, he's received offers from WSU, UCLA, Cal and LSU, with Cal holding the early lead.

* WR Mark Bradford (6-2, 185, 4.55), Los Angeles. A three-sport star, earning all-league honors in hoops and football and plaudits in track as a high jumper, he caught 75 passes for more than 1,100 yards and 10 TDs for Fremont High in 2001. He also rushed for 258 yards. He's hearing from all the Pac-10 schools, but Arizona may have the inside lane if he decides to play both football and basketball in college.

A couple of other Californians to keep an eye on hail from the same school, St. John Bosco in Bellflower, Calif., that sent DT Norvell Holmes to WSU. They are WR Joe Cowan (6-5, 200, 4.5) and offensive tackle Nick Silva (6-4, 290, 5.5). Cowan was his team's co-MVP in 2001. His height and athleticism make him a bon a fide Pac-10 prospect. Silva, meanwhile, already has started for two seasons and figures to pack on another 15 pounds by Thanksgiving.

CLOSER TO HOME, there's another kid who may challenge Durocher as the hottest prospect West of the Cascades. It's RB/DB Derrick Bradley of Kamiak High in Mukilteo. The Cougars have made him an offer and he's said to be leaning heavily toward Wazzu, U-dub and Oregon despite entreaties from Nebraska and others.

He's only 5-10 and 175 pounds, but his 40 time is other-worldly: 4.38 seconds. According to Chris Fetters of, his standing long jump is 9-foot-3 and he bench press 295. He was first-team all league in 2001.

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