'Key' recruiting weekend on tap for Cougs

THIS SATURDAY, Washington State hosts No. 10 ranked Cal on Homecoming Weekend and a group of top prospects from Texas, Colorado and Washington are among the known visitors who will be taking it all in. Among the Washington products is Keauntea Bankhead, one of the hardest hitting safety prospects to ever come out of the Evergreen State.

At least four known standouts, three of the prep variety plus one junior college name very familiar to the Cougar Nation, are known to be coming to Pullman this weekend on official visits: Seattle S Keauntea Bankhead (6-0, 220), Colorado WR Daniel Blackledge (6-1, 175, 4.55), Texas QB Matt Faulkner (6-3, 185) and Redmond RB Logwone Mitz (6-0, 225).

BANKHEAD HAS LONG BEEN a Cougar target, first when the Parade All-American came out of Ballard High and later after enrolling at Dixie State junior college. "Key" originally signed with the UW but fell shy of the required SAT score and subsequently had a falling out with coach Tyrone Willingham that he said has since been mended.

After a stellar freshman season at Dixie State College in Utah, Bankhead, after meeting with WSU head man Bill Doba, decided to move back home to wrap up his AA degree. Transferring to Seattle Central meant Bankhead wouldn't play football this year, but also meant he would now have 3-to-play-3 at the next level.

Bankhead said in January his plan was to attend Washington State, although since returning to Seattle, Chris Tormey and the UW have gotten back in the picture. Bankhead says Washington State remains his No. 1, with the UW not far behind. Defensive coordinator Robb Akey has been running the point for the Cougs on Bankhead's recruitment since Day One.

"I've been talking to Akey a lot, I'm actually going down there this weekend," Bankhead told CF.C this week. "And I've been talking to them for years now so I don't really have a lot (of questions). I'm just going down to get a feel for the team, and the Wazzu (game day experience). I'm just taking it day by day."

BLACKLEDGE HOLDS OFFERS from Washington State and Colorado State. Other suitors include Colorado with Cal, ASU and UCLA also on his radar. Washington State leads.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the campus and the different academic programs they have to offer," said Blackledge, who is leaning towards a Pre-Med major.

Before last night's game, Blackledge was averaging more than 16 hashes a reception, with 18 grabs for 291 yards and two touchdowns for Palmer High (3-4). He also had 72 rushing yards on nine carries.

Blackledge hauled in 51 receptions for 876 yards and eight TDs his junior season. As a situational running back, he also racked up 685 yards and 10 TDs.

"He's really explosive, quick, he cuts well," says Palmer coach Rod Baker. "He's a little shifty -- he's a threat deep but also on short balls... He's a very determined competitor."

FAULKNER HAS SEEN his recruitment take off -- late. A senior quarterback in his first year of starting at Marcus High in Flower Mound, Texas., the Cougs were the first team to schedule an official visit with the Dallas-area signal caller.

Washington State has not offered at this point, although the fact they're brining him in on an official visit speaks for itself. Both Faulkner's mom and dad are also coming up for the weekend.

New Mexico and Fresno State have both offered, and other schools of interest include Oklahoma and Arkansas among others. According to father Tom, Bulldog coaches Pat Hill and Steve Hagen told the younger Faulkner he's their No. 1 QB target, as well as their first and only QB offer. Last night, the elder Faulkner said, there were 11 hand-written letters from the Bulldogs staff in the mailbox.

Many schools have already taken their quarterback(s) by this point in the recruiting season, and Faulkner might just be the gem that comes to he who waited. Fundamentally solid with an accurate arm and quick release, Faulkner exploded onto the scene this season -- he leads the area in passing among 5A quarterbacks with 1,479 yards and 14 touchdowns against five interceptions on 123-of-181 passing, a 68 percent rate.

There are three separate video clips of senior season highlights available for CF.C subscribers on Faulkner's player page.

MITZ HAS ALREADY BEEN to Pullman once this season, an unofficial visit for the USC game. This time around, he'll be flying in for his official trip while his mother will be driving over to WSU. Cougar coaches Timm Rosenbach and Doba have been in close contact with the well put together running back.

"I've been talking to Wazzu the most," said Mitz. "(The USC game) showed me a lot, that they have a mix of seniors and underclassmen and I definitely saw a lot of the talent there among the underclassmen."

Mitz shined at Washington State's summer youth camp earlier this season. Because that experience was about packing as much football and instruction into a few days, and that the unofficial was mostly about the game, Mitz said one of his main goals on his official trip is to get to know more of the Cougar players, while getting a good feel for the WSU program and academics.

"I really just want to look into everything," said Mitz. "I'd like to meet a lot more people..in the football program itself I feel I know the coaches and maybe 4-5 players because the first two times over there it's been all about football. So the social and academic (aspects) I'd like to see...and a little bit more about the campus."

Mitz said his leaders have remained constant and have not wavered throughout the recruiting process -- Washington State and Oregon are tied for the lead, with a second grouping all tied for second that includes "Oregon State, Idaho, UNLV and Cal." Washington State and all others see him at running back, while Oregon is recruiting him on defense at rover.

Through five games, Mitz has nearly 600 rushing yard on 89 carries with five touchdowns.

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