WSU recruiting stretch drive: few spots left

WITH NATIONAL FOOTBALL letters of intent to be signed in just 15 days, the call from here -- presuming all verbals stay in place -- is that the Cougars have just three or four slots left to fill. The final number can fluctuate all the way up until Signing Day, but right now the CF.C projection is that the Cougs' 2007 class will number 23 or 24 -- although that figure could grow with grayshirts.

Most of the final moves for the Cougars look to come on defense.

With both cornerback starters from last season graduating in Tyron Brackenridge and Don Turner, and the position being one of the few that lends itself most to a true freshman being able to play right away, any corners in this class will likely have the opportunity to go from Friday night lights to playing big-time college football from the get-go.

One of the Cougar targets is prep standout Romeo Pellum out of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., the same small town outside L.A. that produced Dwight Tardy, who seized the starting running back spot as a freshman last season. Pellum looks to be down to Washington State and ASU, with a decision possibly coming sometime this week.

Woodny Turenne would be a major get for the Cougars but the competition is fierce for the top rated junior college cornerback in the nation. Turenne, out of the College of the Sequoias has wicked speed and does everything well out on the island, is deciding among Washington State, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Wisconsin, Iowa State and Florida.

Among the other junior college corners who could come into play for WSU over the final two weeks is DaMilyn Tanner, a 4-star prospect out of El Camino College. A 2006 pre-season JC All-American pick by JCFootball.com, Tanner is a two-time all-conference performer and was a key defensive cog and playmaker in El Camino's first California JC championship in 35 years.

"He has some work to do to get qualified but he is quite talented," said Kevin Lustgarten of JCFootball.com. Tanner is set to trip to Pullman on Feb. 2.

The Cougs look solid at the safety position, one of the key positions of need coming into the recruiting season, with 5-star verbal commit Terry Mixon, uber athlete Cornorris Atkins who enrolled in January and prep standout Deon Ford the known verbal commits to WSU. Although Ford is listed as a WR by Scout.com, he will enter fall camp as a safety for the Cougs. Bellevue's Eric Block is another WSU target who the Cougs have been looking at since early this recruiting season.

At linebacker, the Cougs have 4-star Tyson Kirksey, a JC bounce back from the 2005 Cougar class of recruits, and Boise's Marshall Pirtz, a conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 and first-team Class 5A All-State selection as a junior and senior.

One other 'backer to keep an eye on over the last two weeks is Joseph Easter, a 240-pounder with speed and two time all-league pick at California's St. John Bosco.

Three defensive tackles who will don the crimson and gray are Moses Lake's B.J. Guerra, Canadian diamond in the rough Trey Henderson and JC transfer Mike Abana. Henderson is listed as the No. 63 tight end in the nation but crunching pads in the trenches on D may be his calling at Wazzu. At 6-3.5 and 265 pounds, the Vancouver, British Columbia native has a frame conducive to packing on plenty more muscle without sacrificing speed and quickness under the tutelage of nationally renowned WSU Strength Coach Rob Oviatt.

The Cougars might not be done at the defensive end spot just yet, with athletic JC transfer Jesse Feagin among the new Cougars expected to sign his LOI to Wazzu. Tyson Pencer is also listed as a defensive end on Scout.com but the versatile student-athlete out of the same area in British Columbia that produced Cougar and No. 1 CFL draft pick Adam Braidwood could also line up at tight end for Wazzu. Also at tight end is sure handed JC transfer Devin Frischknecht, the top pass catching junior college TE in the country and No. 4 overall receiver regardless of position in all the NJCAA. He enrolled at WSU this month and will take part in spring ball.

The Cougs got their quarterback in the fall with Marshall Lobbestael. He is one of only four Evergreen State players chosen as one of the elite Blue Chips by The Seattle Times. Also listed on Cougfan.com's commit list for Washington State is Kevin Lopina, who enrolled at WSU this summer, practiced all season with the team but because he was ineligible to play in 2006 after transferring from K-State, he is classified by Scout as part of the '07 class. J.T. Levenseller will affix his John Hancock on his Letter of Intent to Washington State two weeks from now but he will be grayshirting, delaying his full-time enrollment at WSU until next January and becoming part of the 2008 class.

CF.C was projecting Washington State to take three wide receivers in the '07 class -- with the caveat that only if the quality was there. The Cougs could still take another wideout depending on what happens the next two weeks but they could also be done at the position with prep playmakers Daniel Blackledge and Jeshua Anderson in the fold.

Redmond's Logwone Mitz, a big running back built like Zeus, joins the stable of Cougar RBs and the future hosses up front blasting open running lanes and protecting Cougar quarterbacks includes Andrew Roxas, Kevin Freitag, Steven Ayers and Vaughn Lesuma, a JC transfer who enrolled in January.

Roxas is 300 pounds of nasty, a first-team all-Mission League pick for three straight seasons and the league's 2006 most valuable lineman. Burien's Freitag, another Seattle Times Blue Chip, broke at least four of his helmets this season. Bellingham's Ayers is a powerful, explosive offensive lineman long a Cougar target who pledged to Wazzu in December, while Lesuma could be assume the starting right tackle spot with the graduation of Charles Harris when the Cougs take the field for the '07 opener against Wisconsin.


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