BREAKING: Wulff closes on Bay Area hitter

PAUL WULFF WAS in California tonight. So, too, was a 6-4, 230-pound versatile Cougar defensive target in the Bay Area -- and the lad still hadn't made up his mind on his college of choice heading into the meeting with Wulff. By the end of the meeting, however, Wulff had closed the deal -- and one of the 'hardest hitting defensemen to come out of San Mateo County in many a year' was Palouse-bound.

All recruiting season long, he's been flying under the radar (for most recruitniks anyway) but Sekope Kaufusi, the PAL-Bay Division Player of the Year, caught the eye of Cougar coaches this fall on the gridiron. Thursday night, he went crimson.

"I just committed to Washington State," Kaufusi said Thursday night. "Coach Wulff and coach (Harold) Etheridge were both here."

Kaufusi said he enjoyed an official visit to Pullman last month but he still wasn't sold on leaving the Golden State for the Palouse when Wulff and Etheridge arrived tonight for the sit down at a local pizza joint.

But by the time Wulff was done talking, he was 100 percent on board.

"Coming into the meeting, I was still confused," said Kaufusi. "I had an offer from San Jose State and it was between those two schools. (Wulff) talked about the pros and cons...and I finally came to the decision to commit to Washington State."

Kaufusi said the other schools who showed interest, most of it of the late variety, were Cal, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Utah and UNLV.

"I felt comfortable enough to express that I wanted to be a Coug," said Kaufusi. "And they immediately jumped up and we all gave each other hugs...On the visit I didn't expect the (college town) feel that I got. Living in the Bay Area, I was used to the city life.

"But I really feel it will be a good thing for me there. I think I'm going to really find out who I am and grow as an individual."

KAUFUSI'S SIZE and skills would seem to argue for defensive end at the Pac-10 level but he said he'll come to Wazzu and get his first look at linebacker, and probably outside linebacker. 'Backer is where he enjoyed the bulk of his success this season for Woodside High after spending his junior year with the hand down at d-end.

Kaufusi may not have been well known in internet recruiting circles but by the end of the 2008 season, he was generally regarded among the media covering high school football in the area as one of the top players in the Central Coast Section -- and certainly the hardest hitting.

And he did it all at Woodside this year according to one local newspaper, tearing it up at linebacker and playing tight end on offense. Change of possession? Who cares. Kaufusi stayed on the field, punting and returning kicks.

Yes, a 6-4, 230-pounder returning kicks for a team that advanced to the CCS Large School Division semifinals. And he returned one of those, a kickoff, 85 yards to the house.

BUT THE BIGGEST PRAISE this season came for his work on defense. Some defensive players make a different sound when they crack pads, and Kaufusi looks to be one of those guys.

His honors and accolades this season also included first team all league tight end and linebacker, and The San Mateo Daily Journal named him their Co-Football Player of the Year -- in large part because he left a path of such destruction in his wake on D.

"One of the hardest hitters to come out of San Mateo County in several years, Kaufusi often resembled a heat-seeking missile, and whoever had the ball was his target...Often times the players on the receiving end of his hits had to be helped off the field. It was only human to see opposing players suddenly get gun shy to go over the middle, knowing they could be the next one to get popped," said the Journal.

Kaufusi also vaulted to No. 11 in the final edition of the 27th Bay Area Cream of the Crop, released just a few days ago.

"Go Cougs! That's all I can say," said Kaufusi. "The impact he had on the game was he was always making big plays -- On defense he was either making the tackle or being double and triple-teamed and freeing up someone else to make a tackle," says Woodside coach Steve Nicolopulos .

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