Cougs happy with Bethel steakeater

WHETHER HE LINED up at d-tackle, defensive end, nose guard, it didn't matter last season. Coming from any angle his junior campaign, he still made a slew of plays in the backfield, and got to the quarterback a whole bunch. There's six-plus minutes of video inside that shows just that. Washington State has offered the player his prep coach describes as an athletic 220-pounder in a 280-pound body.

Happy Iona (6-2, 280) shows up well on film. Very well. There's over six minutes of highlight clips at the end of this story where you can judge for yourself.

"He's a very athletic defensive tackle. He's 280 pounds but moves likes he's 220," Bethel High coach Gavin Kralik told CF.C recently.

The Cougs were the first BCS school to offer Iona.

"I think he likes Washington State a lot," said Kralik.

Iona took in one of the early spring practice sessions at WSU and hopes to be able to head over to the Palouse again this weekend.

"It was full speed, non stop...They said they liked how I handle the inside and outside, I can play d-end, nose guard and tackle...I just like to get to the quarterback," said Iona.

WASHINGTON STATE is his only major offer but there's a reason or two for that. The Cougs, says Kralik, have been monitoring his academic progress closely and now believe he's going to get to the point where he's in good shape to qualify.

Other schools want to wait to see his transcripts down the road before deciding on whether to offer.

There's not, however, much disagreement on what he brings to the football field. The only question has been academics.

"He hasn't gotten a lot of exposure because he has some academic issues he's working through...His first language is Samoan. But he's really kicked it into high gear, coming in during spring break to do extra work. And his stock is rising," said Kralik.

There's a reason for that, too. Iona didn't really begin to work on his English until recently. But as Iona has continued to become more comfortable with the English language, his grades haven't just improved, they've skyrocketed.

"Now he's getting some A's," said Kralik. "It was a language thing...I think he'll do it, I think he'll make it."

KRALIK SAID BETHEL has been in earnest promoting Iona more to schools since his academic improvement now that qualifying has become a much more obtainable goal. But so far, WSU remains the only BCS school to have offered a scholie.

"Washington is very interested in him. His transcripts are going to look a lot different (end of June)...Washington said Happy and Sione (Potoae) are identical on film," said Kralik.

Happy Iona profile and video

Kralik said Bethel has two other prospects who could potentially play themselves into D-IA level offers with big senior seasons: DB Isaac Winters, 5-11, 175; and RB Anthony Meray, 5-9, 185.

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