Cougs considering Tahoma TE/DE

IT'S EASY TO ASSUME that Kevin Kooyman would want that train to keep rolling. After all, when you win a state championship in one sport, why wouldn't you want to continue playing that sport at the next level? But for the 6-foot-5 1/2, 215-pound tight end/defensive end from Tahoma High in Maple Valley, Wash., it's another sport that has his full attention -- even when he's excelling at another.

"My speed helps a lot because I'm pretty quick and my size really helps because it gives me leverage against the smaller guys," Kooyman told about his prowess as a wrestler for the Tahoma Bears. "And I have hidden strength. People don't think I'm strong until they see me working out or when they wrestle me."

A State 3A champion at 215 pounds in 2005, it's clear Kooyman takes his wrestling seriously, acknowledging that he likes being known as a tough guy and wants nothing more than to repeat as a state champ on the mat. But wrestling does not have his heart - or his future.

"I definitely want to play football in college," he said, matter-of-factly. "It's a team sport. You have a responsibility for your position and it feels so much better when you accomplish something as part of a team."

As for the Cougars' interest in him, he says, "Washington State might be close to offering, they told me they would take winter break to figure it out. Oregon and Washington said they were going to make their decisions this week."

THE TAHOMA BEARS won the SPSL north this past season, much of that due to Kooyman taking care of his 'responsibilities' at tight end and defensive end. He only averaged a couple of catches a game for the run-oriented Bears, but still took home All-Area honors offensively, courtesy of the Tacoma News-Tribune. The Seattle Times and Post-Intelligencer liked Kooyman's play on defense, as both papers gave Kevin all-area honors. He was earned first-team all-league honors at defensive end, as he racked up 63 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, five sacks, three fumbles recovered, two forced fumbles, three passes defensed, one punt blocked and one defensive play returned for a touchdown.

Notice the conundrum faced by Boise State, the first team to offer Kooyman a full scholarship. "The defensive coach wants me to play defensive end, and they offered me for that," Kooyman said. "But the tight end coach finally saw my film. He's interested in me playing tight end, so I don't know how it's going to boil down.

"As long as I'm playing, I don't care."

He said Idaho wants him to come for a visit in January, but "it's unofficial right now." He also said he may combine visits to Idaho and Washington State since they're so close.

Besides Boise State, Idaho, Washington State, Washington, Oregon, California, Utah and most of the Ivy League schools have been actively recruiting Kooyman. He has a 3.95 GPA and recorded a 1500 on the SAT (2400 scale). "I was interested in it (Ivies) for a while, but I realized my SAT score wasn't as high as they wanted it to be," he said of a possible future on the East Coast.

"Obviously school there would be extremely tough, so I started to understand how hard it was going to be to manage my time at a school that was going to be that tough. So I kind of stepped away from that."

Kevin took his first official visit - to Boise State - this past weekend. "I liked it a lot," he said. "I was surprised by the campus. What I expected it to be like wasn't what it was like at all. I was thinking that there wasn't much to do in Idaho, but I like Boise a lot."

Kyle Gingg was Kooyman's host - "I enjoyed it all," he said. "Hanging out with my host and the teammates was fun, just getting to know the guys."

But Kooyman didn't submit to any peer pressure. You see, that was never part of the plan - a plan Kevin constructed early on to deal with the emotional ups and downs of the recruiting process. "I told myself in the beginning that I wasn't going to make a decision until I saw all my options," he said. "I liked what I saw in Boise, but I didn't want to make my decision right there, because I want to see what else is out there for me.

"I'm pretty wide open. I'd like to visit all the schools and see what they have to offer. I'm not leaning to one side."

Every year there's a face or two that steps out from the crowd relatively late in the recruiting process - a face that has been seen by the DI schools, but they didn't quite know what to make of him. And like the proverbial Mexican Standoff, coaches continue to put Kevin on hold while they put their own recruiting puzzles together.

Growing up in the Puget Sound area, he says he " probably followed Washington the most ... "it still is a factor, but I want to go about it in a professional way and look at my options and make the best choice for me - rather than just following the team I liked watching."

And as Kooyman continues to grapple with decisions on and off the mat as signing day approaches, it's clear he'll follow his own path.

And his own choice.

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