Wulff: Cougs get RB and DL quality

THE CULMINATION OF his first full year of recruiting football players for Washington State has left coach Paul Wulff delighted with the efforts of his assistant coaches -- and in the quality of the players who make up the Cougar class of 2009.

"Our coaches – I couldn't tell you how proud I am of their effort and the job they've done," Paul Wulff said Wednesday after the last of 21 letters of intent, (the Cougs also name January enrollee Johnny Forzani on their commitment list_, were received from future Cougars.

"They battled and battled and never wavered.

"I think we kind of covered most of the areas. I feel good about those positions in terms of the future. I'm real excited about what these guys are going to bring to Cougar football in the future."

The two position areas Wulff said he was pleased about were running back and defensive line.

"I think by signing Carl Winston and Arthur Burns gives us two young running backs we think we can count on in the near future," Wulff said. "I think it solidifies us for next year, obviously. That is an important area."

Winston is a 5-foot-9, 205 pounder in Gardena, Calif. Burns is a 5-11, 212-pounder at Corona, Calif.

"I think at defensive line we brought in some capable, athletic kids that we just don't have in the program in the amount of numbers," Wulff said.

Quayshawne Buckley of of Ontario, Calif., -- who Wulff said would come to Wazzu at defensive tackle -- is one of four signees Wulff identified as likely to play right away.

The others are wide receiver Gino Simone of Skyline High in Issaquah, defensive end Travis Long of Spokane's Gonzaga Prep and safety Jamal Atofau of Bellevue.

"Based on depth, experience and maturity I think Gino Simone will have an opportunity to contribute fairly early in his career," Wulff said. "Quayshawn Buckley might be able to help in his first year at defensive tackle. Travis Long is another one who has a distinct possibility of helping right away. Jamal Atofau is another one who could contribute early."

Wide receiver Johnny Forzani, 21, from Calgary, Alberta, is already enrolled as a true sophomore and "will have a great opportunity to be ready by fall," Wulff said.

Wulff said having a full year to recruit was a big factor in the success he and his assistants enjoyed. They only had about six weeks to recruit a 2008 class.

"To be able to do what we did in our first full year … was great for us," Wulff said. "We had a full year to create great relationships. We recruited kids who stuck to their commitments. I think that speaks volumes about their character. We didn't have a bunch of kids who were wavering."

Eye opening was the fact five signees are from Western Washington, thought to be a University of Washington stronghold. Wulff said there's no reason why the Cougars can't recruit well in Western Washington and beyond.

"Obviously in Seattle, where there are thousands of Cougar alumni and people who had unbelievable experiences and show their passion for Washington State would be hard (for a prospect) to ignore," Wulff said. "It would be hard for a young player to ignore what Washington State has to offer".

Wulff was asked to describe the factors he thinks led to the successful recruiting of this year's class.

He began by saying it was the coaches' "good looks" but quickly backed off that idea.

"We're just trying to be real people," Wulff said. "And show them our plan … show them what we're looking for. Show them their opportunity. Have them get to know who we are. It comes back down to trust. And I think they feel the energy of our coaching staff."

David Gilbertson, a 6-2, 200-pound quarterback from Redmond High, is an invited walk-on. He has already paid his enrollment fee and will join the Cougars this next fall. David is the son of former Seattle Seahawks assistant coach Keith Gilbertson, who also held the top jobs at Washington and Cal.

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