Former Pac-10 corner has WSU in his sights

WASHINGTON STATE has offered and recently played host to a top corner prospect with two years of Pac-10 experience already under his belt. The Cougs are in a pitched recruiting battle with two other Pac-10 schools for his services this time around. It's a compelling story of how close he came to being a Cougar out of high school, how it is he's back in the WSU orbit, and where he goes from here.

Byron Davenport (5-11, 190, 4.4) is taking classes at El Camino College but is not playing football this year. He said one option is to earn his AA in June, and then join a school of his choosing. Or he could choose to return to UCLA as soon as January, where he had 25 tackles in 2005. He has two to play two.

Davenport was in Pullman on an official visit for the Cal game.

"It was cool, I took a trip to Wazzu in high school and that place is alright," said Davenport. "DeWayne Patterson was my player host. They really welcomed me, took me in and treated me like family, that's what they're big on up there."

Davenport said he is undecided on what the best choice would be for him, that he remains open, and that his three frontrunners, WSU, UW and UCLA all have strong selling points. Washington State and UW have offered, and UCLA has told him they have a place for him. UNLV is also in the mix. He anticipates making a decision by the end of December.

IF YOU'VE FOLLOWED Washington State recruiting closely and the name Byron Davenport doesn't ring a bell, it's because he formerly went by the name of Byron Velega.

Coming out of Long Beach Poly in 2004, he held offers from UCLA, Washington State, Oregon and Cal. He then went on a wild recruiting ride the final few days before Signing Day.

At the end of January, it was down to Washington State and UCLA, and Davenport says he went back and forth between the two schools. With strong family urging, he decided to stay in-state and verballed to UCLA. A couple days later, however, he suddenly switched his verbal commitment to Cal. But with Berkeley about 400 miles to the north and further strong urging from his family to stay close to home, he changed his commitment back to UCLA a few hours later, this time for good, and signed on the dotted line. Two years later, Davenport walked away from Westwood.

WITH SOME incredibly divisive family issues raining down upon him at the time, and things just not working out on the football team the way Davenport said he thought they would and should two years in at UCLA, Davenport said after his redshirt freshman season he reached a point where for his own piece of mind, a change of scenery wasn't only needed, it was an absolute must.

The inevitable rumors surfaced that it was a grades issue or he had been dismissed from the Bruins and what-not, but none of that was true, Davenport told CF.C. Davenport chose to leave, and walked away from football and a scholarship at the time of his own accord.

UCLA is decidedly back in the picture, though, and first year assistant DeWayne Walker and the Bruins' staff are making a strong push for him to return to UCLA. Walker was coming in about the time Davenport was leaving, and Davenport went to see Walker a few days ago and had what he said was a "good talk".

"It went pretty good," said Davenport. "I was surprised, coach Walker's tone was (different) and he was in more of a position than just, 'I need you, man,' and he told me he felt more comfortable with me than the last time we talked. We sat down and really just talked talked man-to-man, not really player to coach, and it was really cool...He said 'I want you back' and I told him I have other schools after me, too, but I told him I'm still considering coming back. Everybody is even right now."

  • With two senior starters out on the WSU islands set to graduate after this year, cornerback is one of the top priorities in the '07 class.

  • Davenport was first-team All-CIF Southern Section coming out of Poly. His senior season, he made 65 tackles, picked four passes and racked up an impressive 21 pass deflections. He also blocked three kicks and had four fumble recoveries. As a junior, he logged 58 tackles with 18 pass deflections, and led Poly in interceptions both years. He did not allow a TD pass in three varsity seasons at Poly.

  • "I talked to coach Willingham last week, he's a real cool guy," said Davenport of UW coach Tyrone Willingham. "Growing up, I remember people saying what a great person he is and not just a coach, and talking to him reaffirmed all that. And he told me that, first of all I felt honesty talking to him and he goes, 'Most of what you have heard is true and I'm a real straightforward guy,' and he's just real respectful. I'm probably going to take an official up there, but I don't know when."

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