Four new Cougars arrive in Pullman early

FOUR ATHLETES FROM Washington State's 2006 recruiting class can no longer be called future Cougars --- they are Cougars. A wide receiver, a pair of cornerbacks, and a linebacker have enrolled early, taking summer courses and participating in the team's voluntary summer workouts. Plus, they're already putting in extra time and reps with some big-brotherly Cougar veterans.

CB Chima Nwachukwu, WR Daniel Blackledge, CB Devin Giles and LB Hallston Higgins are all at Washington State, getting grass stains on their knees and sticking their noses in the books.

And Christian Bass, Alex Brink, Brandon Gibson, Charles Dillon and Vaughn Lesuma are among those crimson veterans who have taken the rookies under their collective wings.

"Brandon Gibson, he called us, and we've been working out with him extra," said Nwachukwu. "Me, Daniel and Hallston have all been working out with him extra, just trying to get in synch with the team. And Vaughn came out there but we're just doing skelly, some 7-on-7. And so Vaughn is just out there running, and I mean, he is running. And Brink was like; 'Yeah! That is what we need. That's what we like!'"

IT WAS BASS, a fellow defensive back and safety, who approached the Texan from Allen High with an outstretched hand on his first day of skelly, something Nwachukwu says he'll never forget.

"I'm just appreciative to the guys on the team, and especially appreciative to Christian Bass. On my first day, I was expecting someone to (help) and Christian came up to me. He walked me through everything, told me what to expect. He just carried me through my first day and coached me up, and I'm really glad he did," said Nwachukwu.

Brink and Lesuma were two more Nwachukwu, (pronounced Nuh-watch-uh-koo), had quick stories about, letting the rookies know they're there to help.

"Vaughn Lesuma, he told us all about his college life this last semester and he gave us his phone number if we ever need anything. And then Brink, our quarterback, I talked to him just about everything, what the season would be like and stuff. And he was saying, 'Man, we're glad you guys are here. We're really looking for your help this season.' He's really great," said Nwachukwu.

BLACKLEDGE SAID his initial Washington State experience has been what he was looking for and meanwhile, here in the summer's early stages, a Cougar linebacker and safety have impressed him with their play and work ethic during skelly.

"It's been everything that I did expect, actually," he said. "It's why I came up here early, to build chemistry with everyone...I'm getting some chemistry with the quarterback. Husain Abdullah, he can read really well. And Greg Trent, he's just like a bowling ball out there. He's huge."

Brink and fellow wide receiver Gibson, Blackledge said, have provided a major influence.

"Brandon Gibson, he's kind of been my mentor the whole time I've been out here -- him and Alex Brink," said Blackledge. "With Gibson, I've never seen anybody run routes the way he does. Some of the plays he (and Brink) complete, it's just unbelievable."

NWACHUKWU NOTED EARLIER this spring the Cougar secondary's style of play in '06 and what he played at Allen his senior year are somewhat similar. He's found the workout regimens are not altogether unfamiliar either, so it hasn't been too overwhelming a learning curve in the early going. Meanwhile, Gibson, he said is operating on another level.

"The first day, I wasn't really performing to my ability and I knew I wasn't. But Gibson is great. Gibson is an awesome receiver. He's seriously amazing --- his route running, his leadership, he's just awesome. I went up against him and I'm really excited for this year. And I'm glad that he's on my side," said Nwachukwu.

Nwachukwu also said he also feels much more grounded these days than when he first arrived.

"This school is big," he said. "I kind of got lost the first day, I'm bad at directions, and I was late to my class so it was frustrating...But by the third day, it was all comfortable. And I love it here now....This team is really something else. Everybody can talk about whatever. We're going to be good."

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