BREAKING: Cougs win Pac-10 recruiting battle

WASHINGTON STATE with five games to go may be down in the win-loss column this season---but Paul Wulff and his staff continue to score big out on the recruiting trail. On Wednesday night, Wazzu's head man received a call from a player who was deciding between offers from the Cougars, Oregon, Arizona, Boise State and others. The ferocious hitter from Bellevue High, he went crimson.

Three star safety Jamal Atofau (5-10, 185, 4.55) is headed to the Palouse. He'll join another Bellevue High defensive back in donning the crimson and gray.

"I just committed to Wazzu," said Atofau. "I think I'll play early and I'll have (Eric) Block there, I'll have another person who can show me the ropes."

With Atofau, eight prep players have now made a verbal pledge to Washington State since June -- and all 8 are rated 3-stars by

High Praise for Cougars' Latest Verbal Commitment:

"It's a great get for the Cougars. Atofau is arguably the top skill player in the Northwest and plays the game with an infectious attitude and swagger that is hard to ignore," says Chris Fetters, Northwest Analyst at and who has seen Atofau countless times in practices and games over the course of his prep career at Bellevue.

The 3.0 star average represents, at this stage, the highest average rating for any Wazzu class ever on since the company's inception and including its earlier permutations after 8 verbal commitments.

Atofau is regarded as the hardest hitting '09 safety prospect in the state.

ATOFAU'S OFFER SHEET INCLUDED Oregon, Arizona and Boise State and Atofau said Wednesday night he went back and forth the past several weeks between two schools -- at the end, it came down to Washington State and Oregon.

What made the difference, what was the deciding factor, said Atofau, was Paul Wulff.

"I just related to Wulff. He's had a lot of hardship and I've had a lot of hardship in my life, too," said Atofau.

Atofau's bumpy road was the focus of a Seattle Times story last month here. "Wulff, I told him, he had asked about how I was doing on the season, how I'm doing in school and everything...and I just told him straight up I want to commit. Today is the commitment for me," said Atofau.

"And he was like, 'Wow!' and he was really excited...He said, 'You can (earn possible early playing time) and we're really excited right now for you.'"

For more on Atofau and his recruitment, click to here, here, here, here.

"He's a very physical kid," says Bellevue High's Butch 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."

Jamal Atofau profile

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