Long odds, but prepster aims to enroll early

ARGUABLY THE STATE of Washington's hardest-hitting safety in the 2009 recruiting class hopes to start his college career next week at Washington State. With time running down -- classes begin at WSU on Monday -- the coming days will determine if the 5-10, 185-pound All-Stater from Bellevue is able to get a jumpstart on his degree and then take part in spring football workouts.

It would seem a long shot, what with the first day of classes at Washington State coming up fast on Jan. 12. Still, Jamal Atofau is scrambling to get his transcripts to the NCAA Clearinghouse in an effort to enroll at Washington State next week and begin his college career six months early.

"That's the plan. Everything is okay, but I still have to get the okay from the NCAA (Clearinghouse)," said Atofau, a key cog in Bellevue's Class 3A state championship run.

The Clearinghouse traditionally doesn't move at the speed of light. Certain classes can be flagged, and it can take months for the green light to be granted in some instances.

Atofau said he is going to remain optimistic he can get it all wrapped up in short order, however.

"I'm excited. College is a big thing, though. I'm excited and anxious at the same time," said Atofau, who added that if he does head to Pullman this month the plan is for him to room with incoming JUCO All-America tight end Peter Tuitupou.

If Atofau does not receive the okay by the Clearinghouse in the coming days, it would still seem probable he would, after signing with Washington State on Feb. 4, head to Pullman and enroll in the summer session. That would still enable him to get a head start on fall camp by taking part in the Cougs' voluntary summer workout program and take college courses.

According to the academic calendar on the WSU site, the last day students may add a course on-line is Friday, Jan. 16. Classes added after that date require additional approval and signatures.

ATOFAU VERBALLY COMMITTED to Washington State in October but over the past month, he has been said to still hold an interest in the Huskies.

The Seattle PI blogged on Dec. 18 that Atofau, "has said he has always wanted to be a Husky". But Atofau on Tuesday threw some cold water on the idea of purple.

"No, I'm a Cougar, I'm a Cougar, I'm a Cougar," said Atofau. "(Steve) Sarkisian and his coaching staff, they do a real good job selling themselves. But besides that, no, I'm not (going) to the UW. I'm a Cougar."

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