Freddie's ready for crimson close-up

WASHINGTON STATE has closed impressively this recruiting season, much as they did last year. With 10 known oral commitments just this month alone plus a soft verbal, the Cougs have but few spots remaining. But this is the last official visit weekend, and Bill Doba and staff will roll out the crimson carpet one more time before the fax machines whir to life Wednesday morning.

One who trips to the Palouse this weekend is a monster DT from the same junior college as new Cougar Jason Price.

Fred Barnett, (6.1, 310), a bull of a defensive tackle out of Arkansas with a Cougar offer, trips to Pullman this weekend.

"I'm just looking to see what it's like up there at Washington State, see what the atmosphere is about," said Barnett.

Earlier this summer, Barnett reaffirmed his verbal commitment to Arkansas, the same school he committed to out of Arkansas High in Texarkana, before academics necessitated a detour to Trinity Valley JC in Athens, Texas., -- the same junior college as new Cougar tight end Jason Price.

BARNETT WAS A two-year all-conference player while at Trinity Valley. He began this past season with a bum ankle and played through it -- but was just never the "Freddie Barnett we knew" said Trinity Valley coach Mark Sartain.

The coaching staff eventually took the decision out of Barnett's hands and sat him for three weeks to let the ankle heal. And Barnett came on with a vengeance.

He logged 37 tackles with 3.5 sacks and was instrumental in helping Trinity Valley to the conference and regional titles this year and had six tackles, including one sack, in their bowl game.

As a freshman, Barnett earned first-team All-Conference honors after racking up 50 tackles and five sacks.

In high school, Barnett was a prodigy. He was only a sophomore when he was named Defensive Player of the Year by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, recording 97 tackles from the interior that season with 49 of those being solo sticks.

A LOCAL ARKANSAS paper said in a feature this past December that Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt and his staff wouldn't have to worry about Barnett going elsewhere. That may very well turn out to be true, but Cougar coaches Leon Burtnett and Robin Pflugrad continue to do a bang up job recruiting the south, with Barnett interested enough to come visit Pullman when it looked like for all the world that he was done with trips and dead set on Arkansas.

"I'm interested to see what they have to offer at Washington State," said Barnett.

Barnett, who said the Arkansas coaches weren't particularly thrilled when he told them he would trip to WSU, said his top choice remains the Hawgs, and it would be a major coup for Washington State to land him here at the eleventh hour. He has strong local ties including a girlfriend and their son, plus his brother Brandon Barnett is a running back who was an '05 Razorback signee, and is expected to join Arkansas in 2007 after his own JC stint ends.

But it would be unwise to count out the Cougs, no matter what stage the recruiting game is in. Over the last two years, Washington State is averaging around a 60 percent ratio on visits to commits.

That's roughly double what is considered a good batting average.

James Smith could decide if he's headed to Pullman or Boulder in the next 24 hours. For the very latest: Confusing times for Smith

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