All American yardage machine draws WSU offer

THE TOWN OF El Cajon, Calif., home to Grossmont College, was named after the 'Big Box Canyon' in which it is situated. Ironic then, that Grossmont's Derrell Hutsona has rarely been boxed in on a football field. A pair of Cougar coaches recently came through the San Diego area, with designs on mining more gold as the recruiting season hits the homestretch. WSU is currently tied for the lead with Hutsona, who holds a Cougar offer and trips to Pullman in about two weeks time.

Hutsona (5-10, 183) holds offers from Washington State, Kansas State, New Mexico State, Utah and Arkansas. Also lurking are UCLA, Tennessee, Nevada and Colorado, with Dan Hawkins first recruiting Hutsona for Boise State and now the Buffaloes.

Hutsona's two frontrunners are WSU and KSU but he was quick to add he remains open to everyone. He trips to Washington State Jan. 13 and Kansas State the following weekend.

Hutsona is fast, especially over the 40 yard range, and has plenty of moves. How fast? He clocked a 4.28 in the 40 at San Jose State last year at the Spartans' Pro Day. But conditions were perfect and he might not be quite that fast these days.

"I'm more like a 4.33 now," said Hutsona.

What's also opened eyes -- Hutsona honed his craft in '05 to develop into an accomplished blocker, and more complete back.

THE COUGS ARE recruiting Hutsona at running back and for special teams, with the former a good situation for someone looking to earn early playing time. The departure of senior Jerome Harrison leaves a talented, but inexperienced corps of backs with no WSU starts to their credit. And as a return man, Hutsona could earn instant playing time. He churned up over 1,000 yards on the season -- on punt and kickoff returns alone.

On the year, Hutsona racked up a ridiculous 2,534 all-purpose yards including the playoffs -- gaining nearly 1,000 of the total in crunch time over a four game playoff run.

Hutsona, a key factor in helping Grossmont lay claim to the JC national title this season was not only an All-American, he was the All-America Co-Offensive Player of the Year as named by the JC Athletic Bureau and the CCCFCA. He also was selected the all-California offensive player of the year and first team offense (Region III) by the same panel.

SOME SCHOOLS ARE talking to Hutsona, as they did coming out of high school, about playing defensive back. But Hutsona has never played DB and isn't in any hurry to make the switch. Given what he's done in limited turns from the backfield, it's not hard to see why.

He wasn't the featured back for Grossmont but Hutsona still became a 1,000 yard back for the Griffins in 2005 with 1,291 rushing yards, (534 yards in playoffs). But a high average per carry is nothing new for Hutsona.

JUST ABOUT EVERY story you read on Hutsona, including this one, makes some mention of Reggie Bush. The two played side by side in the same backfield at Helix High for a couple of years, along with quarterback Alex Smith. And while Bush has deservedly earned a very large spotlight, Hutsona is a player in his own right.

His final two seasons at Helix, Hutsona rushed for 2,052 yards on but 154 carries, a 13.3-yard average that still stands as the San Diego Section career record. Bush gained 4,925 yards on 407 carries at Helix, good for third (12.1).

The two are very close friends, with Bush and Hutsona getting together this Thanksgiving and Christmas. And during a Southern Cal bye and the following week's down time, Bush was sitting with the Hutsona's during a pair of Grossmont's playoff games.

But the two are not competitive, and the inevitable media comparisons between the two are a way to spice up a storyline more than anything else, says Hutsona.

"They compare me to Reggie because we do the same things," said Hutsona. "I just smile because you can't really (make comparisons). We have different types of styles."

OTHER SCHOOLS such as K-State and Nevada have dropped by the school and talked with Hutsona, with WSU assistants Kelly Skipper (running backs) and George Yarno (offensive line) the two coaches thus far having made an in-home. Hutsona said the duo made a solid impression on him and his family over mother Sheena Hutsona's fried chicken.

And talk about a gene pool, Derrell's older brother, Damon Hutsona, was drafted out of high school by the Florida Marlins in 1993. Their father Rodney was a fleet footed high school wide receiver and served as an assistant at Helix and as Derrell's sprint coach. Mother Sheena was a running back for the San Diego Lobos of the Women's Professional Football League in the 70's. She also had some wheels out on the track during her prep days, anchoring the relay.

Integral to Hutsona's decision making process will be the opportunity to compete for playing time, education and the coaching staff.

Derrell Hutsona

There's some question as to whether Hutsona, if he graduates on time, could get a year back and have three years to play at the next level. It looks, however, like he would have two years at a D-IA school. He's on pace to graduate this spring.

Hutsona spent two years at San Jose State, signing with the Spartans in 2003. One year was lost to injury, which will likely be counted as a redshirt season, while the other saw Hutsona not seeing much of the field. After two disappointing years, the coach's resignation ending a stint marked by controversies, and a football program in danger of being dropped altogether, Hutsona made the decision to transfer to Grossmont.

At Helix, Hutsona won the '03 California High School state title with a 24-5.75 leap in the long jump. Hutsona also took home gold in the 4x100 relay team in the '01 California state championship.

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