Duo from Spokane could be can't-miss kids

SPOKANE HAS SENT a procession of talent to Pullman over the years. But not since 1975 -- when George Yarno, Terry Anderson, Jeff Jones and Raleigh Fletcher cast their lots with WSU -- has the Lilac City come through for the Cougs like it did this year. Two long-time watchers of the Northwest prep scene believe Travis Long and Chris Mastin may be the crown jewels of WSU's new class of recruits.

And a third observer -- Gonzaga Prep head coach Dave McKenna -- doesn't have enough superlatives to describe Long and Mastin.

"Phenomenal motor ... and he can flat out run," he says of Mastin.

"Travis is deceptively fast -- he gets those long legs moving and he can run ...against Moses Lake he hurdled a kid and kept running. I think he's going to be part of something special down there at Washington State," McKenna said.

Long, from G-Prep, and Mastin, from Lewis & Clark, signed their letters of intent with WSU yesterday.

The forecast from people-in-the-know is that these co-Defensive Players of the Year in the Greater Spokane League possess the frames, speed and athleticism that could make them outstanding college players.

"Cougar fans will be talking about these two guys for years to come -- they are a dynamic duo," says former WSU All-American Paul Sorensen, who has been an assistant coach in the Greater Spokane League for the last 20 years.


Spokane also sent a pair of good ones -- Jared Karstetter and Dan Spitz -- to WSU in last year's recruiting class. But they didn't generate the type of buzz that surrounds Mastin and Long, each of whom is rated among the top 55 nationally at his position.

"Travis is big – 6-5, 240-something -- athletic, strong and smart. He can play both sides of the line as a defensive end, tight end or even slot receiver," says Sorensen, the secondary coach at Ferris High. "He has good feet and a body that can add 50 pounds if the coaching staff wants to move him inside. He's a very smart football player that doesn't make many mistakes."

As for Mastin, Sorensen is succinct: "He was unblockable as a defensive end the three years we went against him. We would try to double him with a tight end and back or a tackle and back, but he has such a good first step he was in the backfield faster than George W. Bush left Washington, D.C."

Sorensen says Mastin, currently 6-2 and around 200 pounds, would be an outstanding outside linebacker if he doesn't stay at defensive end. "He'll also make a helluva special teams player."

Besides the athletic skills, Sorensen says he likes Mastin and Long because they're good students and good citizens.

The affinity for them extends to Scout.com's Northwest recruiting analyst, Chris Fetters.

"I don't think there are any can't miss guys in this class, because when I think of 'can't miss', I think of guys that have NFL written all over them. There might be only one or two teams in the Pac-10 that have those kinds of kids right now," Fetters says. "Still, I think the two Spokane kids -- Travis Long and Chris Mastin -- are as close to 'can't miss' guys in this class for the Cougars."

Mastin and Long are each rated three stars and rank nationally among the finest at their positions. Long is the No. 42 tight end in the nation (though he will come to Washington State as a defensive end) and Mastin is the No. 55 defensive end (though he might well come to Washington State as a linebacker).

Both were named all-classifications All-State by the Seattle Times and first-team Associated Press Class 4A All-State.


• Two of the great quarterbacks in Cougar history -- Lewis & Clark's Butch Meeker (1925-27) and Shadle Park's Mark Rypien (1981-85) -- hailed from the Lilac City. So did two of the finest receivers in WSU history -- Rogers' Don Ellingsen (1956-58) and Lewis & Clark's Gail Cogdill (1957-59). Cogdill would go on to become NFL Rookie of the Year in 1960.

• Two of the legendary kickers in Cougar lore were Spokane guys -- Gonzaga Prep's Joe Danelo (1971-74) and Mead's Jason Hanson (1988-91).

• Three mainstays on WSU's 1998 Rose Bowl team were Spokanites: linebacker Steve Gleason of Gonzaga Prep; defensive lineman Shane Doyle of Shadle Park; and center Cory Withrow of Mead.

• Six Spokane Cougars earned first-, second-, third-team All-American honors while in crimson. Four were Lewis & Clark graduates: lineman Harold Ahlskog (first-team All-America in 1930); defensive back Bill Gaskins (second-team in 1965); guard Dan Lynch (first-team in 1984); and safety Erik Coleman (third-team in 2003). In addition, Hanson was named first-team All-America in 1989 and 1991 and third-team in 1990, while Don Ellingsen was a third-team choice in 1957. Another LC product, tackle Johnny Bley, was named All-West Coast in 1935, which would be equivalent to a second-team All-America honor today.

• One of the cornerstones of coach Lone Star Dietz's three amazing WSU teams that went a collective 17-2-1 between 1915-17 was a Spokane product: running back/defensive back Dick Hanley.

• The Strongest Man Award that WSU coaches present each year at the season-ending team banquet is named in honor of Tim Petek, a Cougar defensive lineman from Gonzaga Prep who died of cancer during his playing days.

Jerry Williams, from North Central High, was a record-setting back and return specialist at WSU in the 1940s, and went on to become an NFL All-Pro with the Rams and later a highly respected head coach in the NFL and CFL.

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