Divided loyalties for one-time WSU commit

DL JOSEPH TOWNSEND, a Washington State signee before detouring to junior college, is on pace to finish his AA degree ahead of schedule and says the Cougars remain his top choice, citing a strong sense of loyalty to Washington State and coaches Mike Walker and Robb Akey. But Nebraska, aided by Townsend's brother Larry, a Cornhusker player in the mid-1990s, is coming on strong.

"I'll sit down eventually and talk with my brother and see what would be the best fit for me," said Townsend. "I've still got time and don't want to rush it. Of course, he's saying, 'You've got to go to Nebraska'. My brother feels comfortable with both of them, though, Washington State and Nebraska. My brother talked to the Nebraska d-line coach for about two hours the other day."

THE COUGS HAVE remained the younger Townsend's leader since he re-entered the recruiting process in January. Said Townsend in April; "But I'll always stay loyal to Washington State. Washington State was there for me when everyone else left...I'm going to keep them Number 1 always. I'm just going to keep all my options open."

As June's midpoint approaches, Townsend said that remains the case.

"Nothing has changed there," said Townsend, who has been talking to both staffs on a regular basis. "I'm talking to Washington State and Nebraska every week. Everything is going good. With coach Walker, I just check up on him and the family and see how everyone is doing down there."

DESPITE HIS SIZE, (6-4, 296), Foothill had the quick Townsend (4.9) playing hybrid d-end this spring, both to his enjoyment and to much acclaim from the Owls' coaches. Following the spring session, Townsend eschewed taking time off and immediately beginning running the steep hills around Foothill and Los Altos Hills, about twenty minutes northwest of San Jose.

"If I don't work out, the day is wasted -- I'm ready to hit somebody, though," said Townsend. "I'm ready to stick my number on someone and light somebody up."

TOWNSEND WON'T BE taking time off in the classroom either. The summer session max at Foothill is 12 credits but Townsend has petitioned to take 15. A one and a half year stay to earn his two-year AA degree was the original plan but Townsend has hopes of graduating in record time.

"I'm shooting for December," said Townsend. "If that doesn't happen, I'll definitely graduate by around March."

If he were to earn his AA in just one calendar year, he'd be eligible to join the D-I school for spring ball 2007. Regardless of if it's December or a few months after that, he'd still graduate early with three years of eligibility at the next level. As impressive as it would be to earn his AA in 1 1/2 years or less, Townsend is most focused on making up for lost time.

Townsend, 17 at the time, fell a few points shy on his SAT back in December. Rather than sulk, he arrived determined at Foothill in January and has doing very well in the classroom, taking the very heavy class load from the get-go.

"I put myself in this situation, so I've just got to get myself out," he said.

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