BUZZIN' THE PALOUSE: Why Jed's da man

IF I WERE AN NFL player personnel guy, the one Cougar I'd love to nab this weekend – either as a late draft choice or free agent – is Jed Collins. And not just because he's versatile and athletic. The guy is a scrapper. We're all used to seeing the shaggy-haired Collins at tight end, but he projects as a pro fullback, where his size and skill translate well.

ESPN ranks the 6-2, 251-pound Mission Viejo, Calif., native No. 9 among fullbacks available for the draft Saturday and Sunday. ESPN also praises his ability to gain yards after contact.

At tight end, most of the various pundits rank him around No. 30, but generally consider him to be what they call a priority free agent target.

Regardless, you'd be hard pressed to find a tougher competitor. He fights for blocking position and runs hard. As for attitude, consider last season's game against Oregon State. He angrily paced the sidelines when injuries forced him off the field.

Jed Collins isn't the only intriguing Cougar looking to land a pro contract this weekend. Safety Husain Abdullah "plays downhill with attitude" and "shows good instincts," according to Record-breaking quarterback Alex Brink is billed as a "poised, intelligent quarterback". He's ranked seventh-best among QBs by and 13th-best by The Sporting News.

Receiver Michael Bumpus and guard Bobby Byrd also have been drawing the attention of pro scouts in recent months. And receiver Charles Dillon, with his 4.46 time in the 40, could find himself getting a free agent call. So could defensive end Lance Broadus, who turned in a solid Pro Day performance in Pullman in early March.

Like Hamza Abdullah (7th round/pick 17 in 2005) or Steve Gleason (undrafted free agent in 1999) before them, this is a group of players who could find pro success without seeing their names on the upper half of a draft board.

WASHINGTON STATE'S move to Paul Wulff's no-huddle offense puts the Cougs in rare offensive territory. However, the no-huddle isn't as unconventional as it may seem. Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins plans to install it this season, making the Buffs the fourth school in the Big 12 running some version of it. The others are Kansas, Missouri and the Cougars' August 30 opponent in Seattle, Oklahoma State. Even mighty Oklahoma experimented with the no-huddle in spring practices.

Could the no-huddle be at the same point now that the one-back was when Dennis Erickson introduced it on the Palouse in 1986?

For Coug fans who play "NCAA Football 09," be sure to click the appropriate button on your controller before the play-calling screen comes up. That way you can run the no-huddle, giving yourself a more realistic experience calling the shots. Of course, it's only optional. And given the four-straight national championships and top-ranked recruiting classes I've racked up with the Cougs on my Playstation 2, I might be hard-pressed to switch offenses just yet,

HOW ABOUT THAT WOMEN'S rowing team of ours? The No. 5-ranked squad in the nation continues to impress. They just won 11 of 12 races at the Stanford Invitational – a week after the team's varsity eight defeated the Huskies by nearly five seconds in Seattle.

WSU has long dreamed of another national championship in any sport – so why not rowing? Of course it's amazing we're even talking about fielding a rowing powerhouse when the Cougs have to travel 30 minutes out of Pullman to find the nearest major source of water at the Snake River.

The Cougars' next home meeting takes place on May 3rd against Oregon State at Wawawai Landing. Weather is projected to be mostly sunny in the 60s, so odds are you don't have a good excuse to miss it.

THE COUGAR BASEBALL team's hopes for the post-season are looking slim after a disastrous six-games with the two Arizona schools. The No. 2-ranked Sun Devils took two out of three, including a 16-13 heart-wrencher that the Cougs led by five going into the ninth inning. And the No. 22 Wildcats had a three-game sweep that included a 12-inning affair in the opener. The setbacks dropped WSU to 3-9 in Pac-10 play.

The Cougs got back on the winning track with a 9-8 win over Gonzaga on Tuesday and now gear for a three-game series this weekend in Pullman against San Jose State. WSU is 20-18 overall.

For you fans on the West side of the state, mark your calendars. The Cougs and Huskies meet in Seattle on March 9,10 and 11. Head coach Donnie Marbut will kick off the week with a downtown dinner event on March 8. For more information, contact WSU West at 206-448-1335.

While on the subject of baseball, I see where Cleveland's Jacobs Field is the latest victim of corporate naming rights. It is now called Progressive Field. "The Prog" just doesn't have the same ring to it as "The Jake." It makes me happy, in a traditional sort of way, that Jim Sterk hasn't yet found a $10 million taker to rename Martin Stadium.

While I know that money would go a long way toward getting the renovation finished, I'm not sure if I'm quite ready for a name change. But if we have to go down that road, at least make it local. "Schweitzer Field" or "Sella's Stadium" would work. And given Howard Schultz's woes with local sports fans, perhaps he should entertain the idea of the "Starbucks Coffee Grounds."

In the ideal world, I think naming the stadium after Keith Jackson, Bob Robertson or Glenn Johnson would also go a long way in the Karma department. Glenn, by the way, is expected to make a full recovery after being hospitalized Monday with blood pressure issues that originally had doctors thinking stroke.

FINALLY, ON A SOMBER note, a fond farewell to Raymond Stephens, who passed away Saturday at age 78. You may not have known Ray personally, but you no doubt know his food. He owned Cougar Country Drive-In, a Pullman institution and a family-owned business for 35 years and counting. I think he'd be glad to know that he created a restaurant that students and locals will continue to embrace for decades to come.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Grady Clapp is a professional student and avid sports fan at Washington State. He earned a general science degree last year and will come away with second sheepskin, in pharmacy, next year. He is a native of Veradale, just outside Spokane, and a proud graduate of Central Valley High. For more of Grady's insights, visit his blog at

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