Who exactly is this JC LB out of nowhere?

WYMAN ALEXANDER, a JC middle linebacker so athletic he played quarterback on the scout team as a redshirt freshman, was a big signing day surprise last week for Wazzu. His brother, Mister, almost signed with the Cougs a year ago before opting for Florida State on LOI eve. But who, exactly, is Wyman and why is his coach at Coffeyville Community College so excited about his prospects?

Jeff Leiker, Alexander's coach at Coffeyville, the Kansas junior college that also sent cornerback Devin Giles to WSU in this recruiting class, says the Cougs nabbed themselves a gamer in the 6-2, 245-pound linebacker.

"He is a damned talented football player," said Leiker. "He's just a great athlete ... He just needs to decide that he's going to get it done and turn it up a notch ... He has to prove that it matters to him. I told him you're in a position to get back to where you belong, where you should have signed (D-IA) coming out of high school. He's got to buckle down and take care of the academics so he can go, and then he'd have 3-to-play-3.

"We were going to have him come back here if he didn't get some things done. But I talked to him after he signed, 'You're on paper now. You've got the place where you're trying to go, so let's go. Get your stuff done, it's time.' And he's a great kid. He's a real quiet kid, and never a problem."

Coffeyville is limited in the number of out-of-state players (12) who can suit up, so many players come to the school and redshirt -- effectively getting themselves in line for one of the out-of-state slots -- before taking the field. That's what Alexander, a Houston product, did.

One upshot of it all is that those kids who redshirt -- like Alexander -- end up with three years of Division I eligibility, not two.

Alexander is another find of Leon Burtnett, the WSU assistant coach who in recent years has found high-upside Cougar linebackers Cory Evans and Greg Trent in Lena, La., and Keller, Texas -- places where you don't typically run in to Pac-10 recruiters.

And although WSU utilized more of a group effort under recruiting coordinator Greg Peterson this year, Burtnett also ran point for the Cougars on Giles, cornerback Chima Nwachukwu of Allen, Texas, and Hallston Higgins of Houston.

ALEXANDER IS A Texan, coming to Coffeyville out of Houston's Eisenhower High, where he was an 5A All-District first-team linebacker. Academics necessitated the junior college detour, and Alexander still has some work to do in the classroom before he's good to go at Washington State. What remains is certainly doable by the time Wazzu's fall camp opens in August, Leiker said.

Washington State customarily takes academic chances on some of their recruits and while it's a fine line to toe, the Cougs have had more than their share of success stories -- the 10-win teams of 2001, '02 and '03 featured a number of them. But for those who might lament the fact Alexander has some work to do, there's also another way to look at it.

"He's a guy that maybe if he was further along, they (WSU) would have had a lot of people to compete with for him. He can run, and he's very instinctive," said Leiker. "Coach Doba watched some tape and really liked him, so they stretched out to him to see if they could get that motivation going."

Wyman Alexander profile

Cougfan Top Stories