BREAKING NEWS: Six-foot-six TE goes crimson

IT TURNS OUT the weekend that saw Washington State eliminated from bowl consideration was not a complete loss. A 6-foot-6 tight end became the Cougars' latest known verbal commitment on Saturday night. Great college players are made, not born, and his prep coach says he's an excellent blocker and pass catcher because of one thing and one thing alone -- work ethic. The lad also has some local ties.

Spokane's Dan Spitz has gone crimson.

Spitz, a 6-6, 250-pounder out of Mead High gave his pledge to Cougar position coach Greg Peterson on Saturday and later spoke with other members of the Wazzu staff including Bill Doba.

"I committed to WSU this weekend," said Spitz, who was in Pullman on an unofficial visit with his parents. "I just said (to Peterson) that I wanted to be a Coug. He was really excited about it...he let the other coaches know and then I talked to coach Doba and he was pretty excited about it, too."

The Cougs offered Spitz in October and he was close to making a commitment then. However, the Huskies responded by immediately turning up the recruiting love, asking Spitz to wait on making a decision and to come out on a visit to Montlake in December. Spitz told in an article last month UW assistant Randy Hart told him he wanted to offer him but Tyrone Willingham wanted to see more tape after his season was over.

Eventually, Spitz said he knew where he wanted to go all along, and there was no reason for delay.

"It (Washington State) is close to home, it was where I wanted to study, and all the coaches are great there. UW was (close to offering) just felt right at Washington State," said Spitz.

IN SPITZ, the Cougs are getting a self made grabmaster and blocker. Some top notch athletes are born with a lot of natural skill. Spitz has made himself into one.

"He's an excellent blocker...and he's a huge target," said Carty. "...And it's his work ethic that has made him a Pac-10 prospect."

It used to be Spitz would catch everything when he was wide open, but wasn't as prolific in heavy traffic. Spitz told his coach after one incompletion the linebackers were hanging all over him and when are they going to throw a flag. 'Tough,' Carty told him. Pass interference from a 'backer on a tight end is rarely called, said the coach, you have to catch that ball.

And so Spitz worked at it. Then he worked at it some more. The results, said Carty, have been substantial.

"And now he catches that ball, he doesn't drop it... He's worked so hard on catching those tough balls over the middle and getting hit while he's catching them," said Carty.

Only 17 years old, Spitz is still maturing physically but nevertheless, he is still something of a specimen. He's already squatting 525 pounds, with a power clean of 315.

"He's going to get huge," said Carty. "We're a clean and squat program and (Spitz) -- he is very tall but look at those numbers. And that's all legit, I don't let those kids have anything (exaggerated)."

HE WILL ARRIVE at Washington State next fall as a tight end, said Spitz.

Previously, college coaches would look at Spitz, his frame and his skills set, and tell Carty he could develop into a prototype left tackle, or possibly an excellent d-tackle, at the next level. But offensive lineman didn't appeal to Spitz as much as playing tight end did.

But he wasn't blessed with those natural, advanced receiving skills, and a lot of college o-linemen first dreamed of playing something else, a "skill" position. Eventually, many decide to let go of it and concentrate on becoming a lineman. Spitz, on the other hand, simply worked at it until it became reality.

"Dan has worked really hard and has become more athletic. He really studies the game...and he's a very technical player," said Carty. "I think the Cougars are going to be very happy with him. He listens and then he works at it. He doesn't expect it to happen, he works at it and then he makes it happen."

Mead was a running team this season but Spitz still hauled in 14 passes for 194 yards according to an area newspaper. He scored every other time he caught the ball, with seven touchdowns on the season.

Also a top performer in the classroom, Spitz achieved a qualifying score on the SAT but wasn't satisfied with the mark, and plans on bettering it later this year.

Dan Spitz profile and junior video (senior season video will be available shortly)

Spitz will join former Mead High standouts Andy Mattingly and Skylar Jessen on the Wazzu roster.

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