COUGARS LAND THIRD TEXAN

ONCE AGAIN, THE Cougars have struck deep into the heart of Texas. Chris Ivory, a 5-11, 205-pound bruiser with speed has given a verbal commitment to Washington State following an official visit to Pullman this weekend. The inside story from CF.C on how the multi-dimensional standout out of Longview -- a couple hours drive east of Dallas -- became the third Texan in the WSU class of 2006.

The crimson lights, are big and bright -- Clap, clap, clap, clap -- deep in the heart of Texas. So the Wazzu Faithful may be looking to change up the lyrics today to the cowboy ditty.

Ivory tripped up to Washington State with stepfather Kenny Gilliand and the duo fell in love with the place.

"That's where he's going to go to school at and it's a hard commitment, too," said Gilliand. "We loved the area and we loved those coaches. I'm glad he tripped there and I'm glad he committed there.

"He told (Bill) Doba he was coming up there to play for him and they welcomed him to the family. Then he told the defensive coordinator (Robb Akey) and coach (Leon) Burtnett. Chris was excited and the coaches were happy. They were huggin' on him in the hotel lobby."

Reached later in the day, Ivory said the Cougar coaching staff was key.

"First of all, the coaches," said Ivory. "I thought the coaches were pretty great guys. I liked the players and I liked the atmosphere. It just felt like I could really fit in there."

FROM TOP TO bottom, everything about the Washington State program just felt right.

"We were impressed with their facilities, the way they handled their kids, and just everything," he said. "If my job would let me transfer I'd move up there because I didn't know it was that nice...Chris loved it up there."

Gillian said Ivory regularly clocks a 4.4 in the 40. And his prep coach said Washington State got a steal in Ivory.

"Number one, he's just a phenomenal athlete," said John King, Longview High coach. "He's got great strength, great speed, good size. And he packs a punch."

THE KEY TO the Cougars landing Ivory was the connections Burtnett and Robin Pflugrad have fostered down south.

Gilliand said the coaches at Tyler High -- where the Cougs mined gold this year in Kerry Maddox, preceded by his cousin Jason Stripling out of Tyler's Lee High going crimson in 2005 -- told the Washington State staff they really needed to take a look at a kid over at Longview, one flying under the radar who was just one heck of a football player.

"When the head coach came to our house the Friday before the trip we knew it was probably going to be a fit," said Gilliand. "We loved coach Doba when he was over at our house. We didn't want him to leave, super nice guy. Leon Burtnett, great guy too."

A BRUISER AT fullback and a punishing linebacker at Longview, Ivory is versatile enough to be able to play a few different roles for Washington State -- ones he could embark on later this summer should he earn playing time as a true freshman.

"Besides the academics, what impressed us about Washington State was they don't redshirt their freshmen," said Gilliand, "When they take a freshman, they want him to play."

Defensive stats were not available at press time but Ivory scored 15 touchdowns (13 rushing, 2 receiving) on offense his senior year, rushing 120 times for 659 yards while adding another 16 receptions for another 209 hashes.

"And he didn't play but about half the time because we had such big leads," said King, who's Lobos went 10-1 on the year after taking the 5A state title last season.

"I think I only played two full games this season," said Ivory.

IVORY DREW INTEREST from South Carolina, Utah, UTEP and Mississippi State, and held offers from SMU and Stephen F. Austin. He joins Jason Price and Maddox from the Lone Star State in the 2006 Cougar class.

With the final tally yet to be determined Feb. 1, Washington State -- on the strength of coaches Burtnett and Pflugrad's southern ties -- will have signed at least eight recruits from Texas and Louisiana in the last two years.

Ivory is in fine shape academically, having already achieved a qualifying score but wanting to take it again because he wants to improve on his mark.

Chris Ivory profile

NOTES:

  • The numbers can change all the way up until Signing Day but as of now, Cougfan.com is projecting Washington State will take 23 or 24 players in the 2006 class. The final figure may grow by 2 or 3 if the Cougars over-sign with the notion of turning those additions into grayshirts who will enroll a year from now and count toward the '07 class.

  • Ivory becomes the 21st** known verbal commitment in the Washington State 2006 class, joining KR/RB Derrell Hutsona, DE Preston Brooks, DE Ansley Clevil, TE Trevor Mooney, WR Greg Walker, OL Joey Eppele, DE/TE Kevin Kooyman, DB Kerry Maddox, WR Anthony Houston, WR Charles Dillon, TE Jason Price, RB J.T. Diederichs, WR Finas Rabb, DB B.T. Walker, OL Grady Maxwell, OL Micah Hannam, RB Skylar Jessen, LB/TE/S Andy Mattingly, RB Marcus Richmond, WR Keith Rosenberg.

    **Washington State also has a soft verbal in DB James Smith


  • Cougfan Top Stories