Roundin' up the Steak Eaters

<b>MIKE PRICE</b> SAID two months ago that he had four spots in his 2003 recruiting class reserved for some of the most premier sides of beef the West Coast has to offer. With letters of intent still 90 days away, three-quarters of Price's big quad of O-linemen is already complete.

Russell Foster, a 6-6, 290 pound OL from Bonita Vista High in Chula Vista, Calif., announced this past week that he has verbally committed to WSU, joining previous hoss verbals Bobby Byrd and Patrick Afif.

All three are big, physical and exceptionally athletic for their size. reported that Foster was planning to take all five of his official trips --- and, in fact, already had scheduled visits to Arizona, Colorado State and San Diego State --- but "absolutely fell in love" with Pullman on Apple Cup weekend. Miami and Nebraska were believed to be in line for his final trip.

Foster is the second known verbal commitment the Cougars secured during Apple Cup. Landon Ellis, a 6-1, 220-pound athlete from Fresno who projects as a defensive end, also cast his lot with the Cougars last weekend.

"Even though it was my first trip, I just knew it was the right place for me and I couldn't imagine any other school being a better fit. I love the coaches and players. I like the academic support there and I think the small town atmosphere is a good fit for me. There's still things to do in Pullman, but I think it's an environment that's conducive to learning and I'll be able to get my work done," Foster told

"I also think the small town aspect of it brings the team together because all the players are very close with each other. The town loves football there and the crowd support is incredible. I never heard anything so loud as that game, I couldn't even hear myself think it was so loud," Foster added.

As for the other OLs who have verbally committed to the Cougars, Afif --- from Orange Coast JC --- is the most touted. At 6-8, 320 and with 5.3 speed in the 40, his size and agility give him what one analyst termed "unlimited upside potential." He was a pre-season JUCO All-America pick and will have three years to play two at WSU.

Byrd, like Foster, is considered one of the elite prep linemen in the state of California. He's 6-6, 290 pounds and possesses tremendous agility. He chose WSU over Oregon and Washington. Foster is rated by as a top 75 national OL prospect, Byrd a top 130.

Unless the Cougars opt to grayshirt some members of their next class of recruits, the verbals of Foster, Byrd and Afif mean Price has but one slot left for an offensive lineman in his 2003 crop of players.

One lad who is believed high on WSU's list --- Chad Macklin (6-8, 265) of Visalia, Calif. -- also tripped to Pullman for the Apple Cup. He is said to have narrowed his list to WSU, Oregon State, Washington and Northwestern.

Another steak eater high on the Cougars' list is Ray Schuening (6-4, 275) of Pendleton, Ore. WSU has been his leader since early fall, but PacWest reports that he's now a lean to Oregon State after tripping there during Civil War weekend.

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