Trip to Pullman cements commit to Cougars

PAUL WULFF SAID at a booster dinner in March that the Sacramento area, where he grew up, has serious football talent and that WSU - which typically didn't spend much recruiting time there - would be devoting more attention to the region. Sure enough. The first youngster to make an official visit to Pullman this fall was a Napa Valley lineman who says the trip reinforced his commitment to WSU.

Justin Clayton, a 6-4, 245-pound defensive lineman, committed verbally to the Cougars shortly after attending the Cougars' summer youth camp in June.

He said his official visit to Washington State two weeks ago went about as well as he could have hoped. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a win over Cal.

"But that game doesn't have anything to do with my commitment. I am going to play football there regardless of if they lose or win this year because that's where I want to be. And it's a good school ... it was a really good trip." said Clayton, who made the trip with his dad.

Of the loss, Clayton said what stood out to him was a team playing through injuries and having fewer players on scholarship than a normal year. WSU is down six scholarships this season due to a low APR score.

"You could just see the (attrition) with all the injuries, the people that had (left) the team -- that just really comes back and shows up when you play really good teams," said Clayton.

BACK IN JULY, the Justin Siena High standout tore it up in the Cougs' summer youth camp and had some good conversations with co-defensive coordinator coach Jody Sears and defensive line coach Malik Roberson.

He also got to take a close look at WSU's indoor practice facility, the Cougar Fitness Cafe, the Student Rec Center, and more. In addition, he met Darin Lovat, WSU's new strength and conditioning director.

"It was a lot of fun. The coaches were the exact same as the last time as I was there this summer. They were all real excited to see me and they took me around and showed me stuff I didn't get to see last time," said Clayton.

CLAYTON'S MOM AND sister came up with him in July. This time around, his father was by his side.

"He loved it. He didn't get to come with me when I came up for the summer camp so he was all excited and jacked up for it. He had a great time ... he felt like he was a big celebrity," laughed Clayton.

CLAYTON MAY PUT weight on when he gets to Washington State and move inside to d-tackle, or he might play defensive end for the Cougars. The coaches were naturally busy on game day but he said he still got to spend considerable time with the staff over the course of the weekend.

"There was no one else there with me that I saw, I think I was the only (official visitor that) weekend," said Clayton. "I was with coach Sears a ton."

Clayton gave high marks to host Andy Mattingly during his visit.

CLAYTON AND JUSTIN SIENA High are 2-0 this season. In their most recent game they limited a good Acalane team to five yards rushing. In the opener, Clayton had 1.5 sacks and four tackles in the first quarter alone. Leading 35-0 after 15 minutes, he had an early night and watched the rest of the game from the sidelines.

"I love defense," said Clayton.

Clayton earned first-team all-league honors at defensive and offensive line as a junior, and also first-team all-county honors on defense.

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