RECRUITING: The curious carousel at corner

THINGS ONLY SEEM TO be growing, as Alice in Recruitingland would say, curiouser and curiouser. First Kerry Maddox says he's a Coug, then a Division I-AA Texas State Bobcat and now a Coug again. Vincent Joseph, meanwhile, was leaning so heavily to WSU he seemed a done deal. But Pete Carroll, with three late recruiting losses at corner, stepped in with an 11th hour offer that Vincent accepted. And that's just a flavor of the twists and turns enveloping the recruiting trail as LOI day looms.

Vincent Joseph, from Long Beach Poly, isn't the only Cougar-lean the Trojans made a late run at. JC corner B.T. Walker, a WSU verbal commit, says the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity with USC and others knocking on his proverbial door (see related story on CF.C front page). USC's sudden interest in cornerbacks looks to stem from the recent loss of three of their top CB targets (Devin Ross to Arizona; Ray Small to Ohio State; and Jai Eugene to Michigan).

Joseph said last week that he would announce his college choice on LOI day, but he told CF.C the suspense is over: He's going with the Trojans. (see related Hot News on CF.C front page)

AMONG THE OTHER late developments in and around Cougar recruiting:

* Safety/receiver Cornorris Atkins, once thought to be headed to Utah State with Washington and others coming on strong, suddenly announced Friday night that he firmly is on the side of Bill Doba.

* Houston prep corner Otis Johnson looked to be down to a final two of WSU and Kansas State with a trip to Pullman set for this past weekend. After tripping to Wildcat country a week ago he pulled the plug on the WSU visit and verballed with KSU.

Kerry Maddox, though, is perhaps the most interesting testament to Yogi Berra's famous line that "nothing's over till it's over." The athletic corner from Tyler, Texas, who had message boarders scratching their heads over why someone would eschew the Pac-10 for a Division I-AA school, told his hometown paper and CF.C it was all about proximity to family but he's now headed to Wazzu and that's final.

"Chris Ivory is going to be my roommate," maddox told Cougfan.com. "I know him because we played against each other. There's like eight guys from Texas up there." (See related story on CF.C front page).

Ultimately, assurances from home that it would be OK to head far north, brought him back around.

"The (Washington State) coaches were still calling," Maddox told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. "My mamma said if they can make it to at least three games a season it would be all right." Maddox also is quoted as saying, "They'll have NFL scouts looking at me more and they play more games on TV and against better opponents … I'm tired of switching. I feel Washington State will be a better fit for me."

Such tales are why those old stories of coaches camping out on a kid's front porch the morning of Signing Day are easy to understand. A verbal pledge is one thing, but a signed LOI is quite another.

IN OTHER RECRUITING news, two Washington State verbal commits were picked by the Tacoma News Tribune this weekend to its Western 100 list of top prep prospects in Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Idaho and Alaska: Spokane LB/S Andy Mattingly; and San Diego WR Anthony Houston. Last Monday, Mattingly was named by the Seattle Times as one of only four blue-chip prep prospects in the state of Washington.

JC defensive tackle Freddie Barnett said he enjoyed his official visit to Washington State over the weekend but will be sticking with his verbal commitment to the home-state Arkansas Razorbacks. "It's a nice school and I appreciated the trip to Washington State but it's just really a little too far," said Barnett.

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