Trip to Pullman sold QB on Washington State

WASHINGTON STATE got in early on Kevin Lopina, right after he received his release from Kansas State. And Cougar recruiting coordinator Greg Peterson, who coached the past 12 years in Manhattan, certainly helped land the Cougs first known commit of this year's class. But what sealed the deal for the 2005 scout team player of the year at K-State was his trip to Pullman.

There were all the Bill Snyder connections at San Diego State. Wisconsin, New Mexico and others made strong cases. But after a trip to WSU, Lopina knew he was destined to wear the crimson and gray.

Nothing new there. Washington State has a phenomenal success rate in the number of commits per visit.

While Lopina's visit to the Palouse was an unofficial one, consider these numbers -- out of 37 prospects hosted for official visits in 2005, 21 signed with the Cougs, not including grayshirts. The year before was even more impressive -- Out of 34 players who took official visits in 2004, WSU signed 20 of them. That's an unheard of success rate. The NCAA allows schools to use up to 56 official visits.

"What really sold me was when I took the trip up there," said Lopina. "The town was kind of similar (to Manhattan) -- but it was just pretty much everything about the school. It's in the Pac-10, the faculties are really, really nice and all the coaches are great. I have a lot of friends at Pac-10 schools so it will be fun to play against them, too."

LOPINA HAS A lot of friends, period. And especially in and around California. Sean Kelly, publisher of tells CF.C that Wildcat players and recruits naturally gravitated to Lopina while the 6-3, 200-pounder was in Manhattan, and also when back home in the Golden State.

During the offseason this past winter and spring, Lopina spent a ton of time working on his craft, studying under noted quarterback guru Roger Theder and rubbing shoulders with an assemblage of NFL quarterbacks and receivers.

"I work with coach Roger Theder who's coached at Cal, the San Diego Chargers," said Lopina. "He works with Drew Olson, Bradlee Van Pelt, Sam Keller -- a bunch of NFL quarterbacks from the Pac-10."

LOPINA WILL DRIVE up to Pullman this weekend, arriving at WSU Saturday evening. He'll hit the ground running, taking part in the Cougs' voluntary summer workouts and will start summer classes at Washington State on Monday.

He verbally committed to WSU late last week, and mailed all the requisite paperwork immediately.

"Everything is signed and sent in," said Lopina.

NCAA transfer rules mandate Lopina sits out his first season but since he redshirted as a freshman, he will still have 3-to-play-3 at WSU beginning next season.

During spring ball in Manhattan a couple months back, Lopina was already thinking he would probably leave the program. K-State's scout team player of the year this past season, long time watchers of the program said had he not redshirted in '05, Lopina likely would have been the No. 2 quarterback as a true freshman for the Wildcats.

Lopina threw for nearly 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns his senior season at De La Salle High, racking up another 750 yards on the ground and 10 rushing TDs. He was first team All-CIF, first team all-league and named the No. 2 player in the Bay Area, regardless of position, by the Contra Costa Times and All-Metro by the San Francisco Examiner. in 2005 ranked Lopina as the No. 23 quarterback in the country coming out of high school.

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