Cougs offer fleet, physical in-state safety

ONE OF THE PRIMARY recruiting needs for Washington State in its 2009 class is speed coupled with physicality. Particularly on defense. To that end, the Cougs recently offered a fleet-footed, hard-hitting safety from the Seattle area -- one who says he made an instant, strong connection with Wazzu head man Paul Wulff.

Bellevue's Jamal Atofau, who clocked a 4.52 at a NIKE combine last summer in Oregon, was offered late last week by the Cougs, said Butch Goncharoff, head coach at Bellevue High. Atofau also brings more than just speed to the table.

"He's a very physical kid," said Goncharoff. "He makes plays all over the field, very instinctive. He's got a great feel for the game. Some guys are great athletes and have a great feel but he's a kid who just has such an amazing feel for the game."

Atofau (5-10, 185, 4.52) said all schools are even but that there was one coach that he's formed a particularly strong bond with early in the recruiting season.

"Coach Wulff," said Atofau. "I connect with him."

Prospects can call coaches at any time of the year without restriction and Atofau said he's made it a point to ring up the Washington State and Arizona staffs along with others on a regular basis.

"Coach Ball is a DB coach and defensive coordinator there and that's one coach I really liked, and the (area recruiting) coach is Travis Niekamp. I've talked to all of them," said Atofau.

IN ADDITION TO WSU, Atofau, whom Goncharoff said is also probably fast enough to play corner at the next level, holds an offer from Arizona.

"I'm a strong safety, that's where (I've been offered)," said Atofau. "Both (Washington State and UA) told me they like physical players, and that we need physical players to bring us to a winning (level)... And they said they loved how I throw my body out there."

Others may also be close to offering. He's hearing most from UCLA, Cal, Boise State, Washington, Oregon State and "a little bit" from Idaho and Penn State.

Planned unofficials in the coming months include to Boise State and a second trip to UCLA. He said coach Rick Neuheisel and Bruins' defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker were showing him the recruiting love during a recent unofficial trip.

ALSO A TRACK AND FIELD standout, Atofau runs the 100-m, 110-h, 4x100 relay and competes in the long jump. He was second in the KingCo league last year with a 15.8 in the 100-h. His personal best is 11.3 in the 100-m.

Atofau said he will probably go through his senior season before making a verbal commitment but left the door open on making a decision before the season gets underway.

"My family, that's the one big part of--my mom, my family, plays a big role in what I do," said Atofau.

Jamal Atofau profile and video clip

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