Cougs cornering the market on corners

WHAT ARGUABLY WAS Washington State's most pressing and, as recently as 10 days ago, worrisome recruiting need, cornerback, is quickly becoming a position of strength. In the last week, the Cougars have secured verbal commitments from three corners -- Devin Giles, Tyrone Justin and Romeo Pellum -- and a fourth is leaning crimson.

The Cougars' and secondary coach Ken Greene's need for corners, especially young ones, is dramatic. Both of the team's starters this past season were seniors: Don Turner and Tyron Brackenridge. Three of the next four on the depth chart -- Brian Williams, Markus Dawes and B.T. Walker -- will be seniors in 2007, and the fourth, 5-8 walk on Ryan Kensok will be a junior.

Moreover, the Cougars' depth has been weakened by the academic woes that recently left Courtney Williams ineligible to play, and the homesick departure last summer of Kerry Maddox, a high-upside freshman from Tyler, Texas.

Giles, a 6-0, 170-pound junior college transfer, is the most recent pick up, and certainly an intriguing one.

He hasn't played in a game since his senior year in high school -- a period of two years -- although he has been out on the practice field every day with Coffeyville.

WSU coaches Bill Doba and Leon Burtnett went down to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas to meet with Giles. They liked what they saw enough to offer him, bring him in on an official visit last weekend, and gain a verbal commitment in return from the lightning bolt.

"He didn't make the roster for some crazy reason, he can explain it to you better than I could, but he was practicing with the team and doing all that with them," said Billy Giles, Devin's father.

"Coach Doba and coach Burtnett have seen a lot of film on him because they keep film of Coffeyville's practices."

THE YOUNGER GILES said the official visit to WSU blew his doors off.

"The football program and the academic program at Washington State I think is one of the best," he said. "I've been on official visits before but I have never, never been on one like that."

Giles said having redshirted his first year and after sitting out this season, he has 3-to-play-3 for the Cougars.

"Me and the (Coffeyville) coach had a misunderstanding so I didn't play this year but I did practice," said Giles.

Giles has good size for a corner, likes to hit, plays the run well and runs like the wind -- saying he consistently hits the 4.3 range in the 40.

"I'm a man to man corner, so they tell me," said Giles. "You can tell everyone up there that they have a great player on their hands."

A highly touted 3-star prep prospect out of Jefferson High in talent-rich Tampa Bay, he was thought headed to Rutgers in 2005 as one of the top 65 prep corners in the nation. But academics detoured him to junior college in Kansas where he also ran track.

He posted a 10.66 time in the 100 meters last spring.

Justin, a two-way player from the same California high school -- Culver City -- that produced Michael Bumpus is another track standout, specializing in the sprint. He plays off the ball well -- a trait uncommon among high schoolers. He held offers from UNLV, Iowa State and Nevada, with Oregon, Kansas and Ole Miss among those lurking.

Pellum also is a blazer, with a self-reported 40 time of 4.49 seconds. He chose WSU over Arizona State. A 3-star prospect rated No. 87 by Scout on its list of top prep corners, he was All-CIF and named his league's defensive player of the year.

Another speed merchant who could be heading to Pullman is Dallas-area prepster Chima Nwachukwu (5-10, 192). He tripped to WSU last weekend and was very high on the Cougs. He's taking final trip, to Rice, this weekend.

Spring ball on the Palouse commences in March. At this point, Dawes would seem the likely starter at one corner spot when the Cougs hit the field. Beyond Dawes, Washington State has a growing number of players –- a figure that will only increase when fall camps picks up in August and guys like Giles, Justin and Pellum hit the turf -– who will be competing to earn turns out on the island in '07.


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