OH CANADA! Tackling machine goes crimson

TO SAY WASHINGTON STATE'S recruiting momentum is gaining steam would be an understatement. For the third time since Sunday, the Cougs have secured a verbal commitment from a standout prep lineman. Canadian DE/TE Tyson Pencer, who racked up 25 tackles in a single game last year, tells CF.C that WSU recruiting coordinator Greg Peterson almost drove off the road when he broke the news via cell phone.

Pencer (6-6, 240, 4.62) wasn't in Pullman this past weekend -- the Cougs' first this season in which they hosted prospects on official visits -- but he watched the USC game from home in Delta, British Columbia. And on Monday night, he picked up the phone. First, he dialed up Peterson. Then he called WSU offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller. In doing so, Pencer became the third known verbal commitment for the Cougs since Sunday, joining OL Andrew Roxas and DT B.J. Guerra, and the sixth overall in the 2007 class.

"I said, 'I thought I would like to tell you I'm going to become a Cougar and I'd like to commit to your school," Pencer recounted of his call to Peterson.

Peterson, in his car at the time, was pleasantly surprised -- so much so that he apparently became at risk of losing control of the steering wheel.

"He said he had to pull over," laughed Pencer. "He said, 'I'm not going to be able to get to sleep tonight!' Coach Levy was pretty excited. Then my dad called coach Peterson again and he said that coach Levy was just ecstatic."

Washington State told Pencer earlier this summer at the Cougars' youth camp they can see him playing either defensive end or tight end, but he took virtually all of his snaps out on the Palouse in late July at defensive end. Playing the game of football since he was five years old, Pencer has also said he thinks his biggest upside is playing on defense and coming off the edge.

PENCER HAD BEEN seeing increasing interest from Arizona, Boise State, UCLA and others, with WSU ultimately coming out on top over Oregon and Colorado, who along with the Cougs had emerged as the frontrunners. Early in the process, Pencer said he initially liked the thought of playing in Eugene, but that it faded over the past couple of months. Colorado had offered but the more Pencer thought about it, the more Pencer said he knew WSU was the right place for him.

"I really liked Washington State," said Pencer. "I didn't have anyone that I was particularly waiting on here -- at first Washington State offered me, and I was waiting on Oregon, but as time went by, I just really started liking Washington State better. Even if Oregon had offered me now, my decision still would have been to go to Washington State.

"I really got the feeling from Washington State and their coaching staff that I would be treated great down there -- and it's good for my parents because they know that I'll be taken care of down there."

CUMULATIVE STATS FROM HIS junior season were not available at press time but Pencer did log a stunning 25 tackles in a game against Windsor last year. This season, it has unfortunately been more about practice than games for Pencer and his teammates, he said. Pencer said a dispute between schools, parents and coaches has boiled over to disrupt Sands' season, with some high schools refusing to play, feeling Sands has some unfair advantages.

"All the high school teams we're supposed to be playing are bypassing us, they don't think it's fair that they play us," said Pencer. "Right now we have a game every week but we find out every Monday that the team is going to forfeit. I know the coaches are trying to get some exhibition games but we haven't played a game in almost three weeks now. We're practicing every day, though."

Video on Pencer including Windsor clips is available on his player page. Pencer's official visit trip to Washington State is scheduled for October 21 when the Cougars will play host to the Ducks.

Along with Pencer, Washington State's known verbal commitments: OL Andrew Roxas, DT B.J. Guerra, LB Tyson Kirksey, QB Kevin Lopina and OL Kevin Freitag. Lopina is enrolled at WSU and practicing with the team but because he is ineligible to play this season after transferring from K-State, he is classified as part of the 2007 class.

Tyson Pencer profile and video

The Cougs have long tapped the Canada pipeline to good result. Any listing of Canadians who have notched their place in crimson lore has to include one of the greatest Cougs of all-time -- Rueben Mayes. Other standouts from north of the border -- Brian Forde, Hank Grenda, Rob Meier, Don Sweet, Ted Gerela, Glenn Harper and recent No. 1 CFL draft choice Adam Braidwood (who also hails from Delta).

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