Seattle CB draws Crimson/Pac-10 looks

THE POSITION OF cornerback is oft-mentioned by college coaches as one of the more difficult to recruit to -- and quality prospects to man the island looks again be a priority for the 2007 WSU class. A Seattle product getting early looks around the ranks is Rainier Beach's Vonzell McDowell, a playmaking speedster according to his coach.

Rainier Beach coach Mark Haley says McDowell (5-9 1/2, 170) has the two things difficult to teach.

"He has great hips, and he has the recovery speed on the ball," said Haley.

"You have to be able to move your hips, stay with that receiver and not let him do what he wants to do," said McDowell. "I like the one-on-one contact. I love press coverage."

THERE WERE OVER 300 prep players, most of them seniors, at last year's NIKE combine in Eugene. Not one of them ran a faster 40 time than McDowell's 4.52, then only a junior-to-be.

McDowell put up some nifty offensive numbers last year but schools are recruiting him at defensive back, one that owns a soft pair of hands and a proclivity for making the big play.

"He has that good speed, and he has good hands," said Haley.

MCDOWELL IN 2005 returned three of four interceptions plus one of two fumble recoveries, for touchdowns, to go along with appx. 35 tackles. Offensively, he scored 15 touchdowns, racking up 1250 all purpose yards and 25 receptions.

Oregon, Washington and WSU have all been by Rainier Beach to make inquiries about his cornerback, said Haley. McDowell said Oregon State, BYU and Michigan State are also filling up his mailbox.

"I like the University of Oregon a lot, how the school was surrounded by the little town and the coaches that I've met so far. I don't really know much about WSU. I haven't been down there in a while," said McDowell.

Camp, combine and junior day plans this time around include Oregon, the NIKE camp at Stanford and possibly UCLA.

The chance to earn early playing time will be important to his decision, said McDowell, as will a good group of players and coaches who can help him become a better player.

Also a standout on the hardcourt, McDowell decided to forego the hoops season to work on his football skills.

McDowell picked up a slew of awards as a junior, including first-team Associated Press Class 3A All-State at defensive back and first-team All-Metro League Sound division at both receiver and defensive back. He was also selected the Metro League Sound Division's 2005 defensive MVP.

Vonzell McDowell profile

Among the other in-state corners to keep an eye on, Gig Harbor's Toney Henderson. The 5-11,180-pounder was all-league at both receiver and defensive back in 2005, took home the state title in the long jump, and he's a standout basketball player to boot. Plus he's a lightning bolt, clocking in the 4.4 range in the 40. The Cougs have signed a Gig Harbor standout each of the last two classes -- Kenny Alfred in 2005 and Micah Hannam in 2006.

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