Speed merchant Giles a WSU steal, says coach

THE ONE THING they haven't yet figured out how to coach, is speed. It's a critical component at cornerback, and in varied ways. Devin Giles, who signed with WSU this past week out of Coffeyville CC, hasn't played in a game in two years. But he has 3-to-play-3, and he's wicked quick. Indeed, he could very well be the fastest Cougar on the entire team when he arrives in Pullman later this summer.

That's because Giles consistently runs a legit 4.2 in the 40. He ran an impressive 10.77 in the 100 meters in high school but has since bettered that -- at Coffeyville as a member of the track squad last year he clocked a blazing 10.66.

"Devin is in the 4.2 range," said Coffeyville football head man Jeff Leiker. "If we had more room, he would have played. It's a coin flip, sometimes."

Leiker is referring to the limitation that Coffeyville can only suit up 12 out-of-state players each season, and it's a determination that has to be made at the beginning of the year. His first season in 2005, Giles redshirted, something Coffeyville does by design for most out-of-state players. One of the benefits for the prospect is it gives him three years of eligibility, not two, at the next level.

WSU coach Bill Doba said on Signing Day that Coffeyville told him, if they had it to do over again, they would have played Giles this past season. Hindsight is always 20/20, and the Coffeyville staff got an eyeful in '06 because while Giles didn't play in the games, he practiced with the team every day throughout the year.

"He will be a really quality player for them -- he's a steal," said Leiker of Giles heading to Washington State. "Auburn kind of put him in here out of high school."

GILES SPENT his prep days at Jefferson High in Tampa, Fla., where he was rated as one of top 100 prep prospects in state of Florida and of one nation's top 65 prep cornerbacks. In addition to Auburn, he garnered attention from Rutgers, Clemson, West Virginia and others before it became apparent he was headed for a junior college detour.

Despite not seeing any game action the past two seasons, Leiker said Giles is ready right now to make an impact in the Pac-10 man-to-man press coverage -- but of course much more goes into being a top corner in the Pac-10 than solid man-to-man skills. And Doba has said the Cougs will look to play more "cover-four" this year, a zone alignment in which each defensive back has territorial deep responsibilities from the line of scrimmage all the way back to the endzone.

In the coverage's most basic alignment, the safeties handle the entire middle and the corners all of the sides. Consistent and reliable cover four was a hallmark of the solid defenses WSU put on the field over the years when Doba was the defensive coordinator under Mike Price, a role the WSU head coach will again assume this season with Robb Akey having moved on to Idaho.

LEIKER SAID he expects Giles, under secondary coach Ken Greene's tutelage, to quickly assimilate to what the Cougars do on defense and in the secondary.

"He's just truly a cover corner type kid," said Leiker. "Learning some things and techniques has held him back a little bit but I think with the right place, learning the techniques, he'll be really good for them."

Leiker also said Giles looks to be in good shape academically to be ready to roll when fall camp kicks off at Washington State in August.

"Devin I think has done well there," he said.

Giles is one of four cornerbacks the Cougs signed this class, joining prep CBs Chima Nwachukwu, Romeo Pellum and Tyrone Justin.

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