Recruiting Roundup 1/9

WITH A HANDFUL of grayshirts and previously committed JC players en route, WSU entered the 2003 recruiting wars with a specific get list: two prep offensive linemen, two JC hosses, two prep DBs, two high-speed prep defensive ends, two prep receivers and two prep DTs. With letters of intent due to be signed in less than a month, the Cougars' list is nearly done. And some great news in the last few days sends <b>Bill Doba</b> and his troops into the stretch run with great momentum.

On the good news front, California prep offensive lineman Bobby Byrd and Russell Foster each reaffirmed their commitments to the Cougars in the last week. In fact Russell recently noted that he and Byrd --- teammates on the California all-star squad that last week took on Florida's finest --- may even room together in Pullman.

Russell said he plans to take a final recruiting trip, to Arizona, but pledged it will have no bearing on his commitment to WSU.

WSU's two other OL verbal commitments --- Orange Coast College standouts Keola Loo and Patrick Afif --- are more than rock solid for the Cougars: They've already sent in their signed paperwork.

With Foster, Byrd, Loo and Afif, the Cougars' needs at OL are filled.

So, too, it would seem, are many of their needs on defense, with Aaron Johnson (6-5, 245) and Landon Ellis (6-1, 220) at the ends and Reyshawn Bobo and Christian Bass at DB. There's also Paul Stevens (6-4, 225), a talented athlete from Tacoma who could play either of those positions plus linebacker.

So look for the Cougars to pick up two receiver/DB types and a big-framed kid who could play defensive tackle.

Among the prospects the Cougars would like to land for those WR/DB slots are:

  •   Rudy Burgess (5-11, 175) from Edwards, Calif. The Cougars have been his leader for a long while, but Oregon and Arizona State are in hot pursuit.
  •   Clifton Smith ( 5-8, 165) from Fresno. The Cougars are his leader, with Oregon State and Fresno State lurking.
  •   Terrell Thomas (6-2, 180), a 4.35 speedster from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. He visits USC this weekend and figures to pick from among the Trojans, WSU, Oregon State and UCLA.
  • Jason Rivers (6-2, 185), a receiver from Jason Gesser's alma mater, St. Louis High in Honolulu. Gesser showed him and St. Louis teammates Tolifili Liufau and Wilson Afoa around Pullman the week before Christmas. Washington, Hawaii, San Diego State and San Jose State are also on his short list.

Liufau and Afoa are both 6-3 and tip in at 290 and 260, respectively, potentially filling the bill for a DT in the Cougars' class.

THE NEWS OF grayshirt QB Carl Bonnell's controversial defection to Washington after repeated phone calls from Rick Neuheisel may alter what Doba does with this recruiting class the rest of the way. But with the lateness of Bonnell's move, it's not likely there will be too many options.

With Bonnell in the crimson fold up until three weeks ago, the Cougars had no need to sign a quarterback in its upcoming class. His defection now wreaks havoc on the Cougars' succession plan at that position. Most of the quality prep signal callers already are committed elsewhere, so the chances of the Cougars coming to the party late and coming away with someone of note would appear slim. Look instead for the Cougs to make a top-flight QB their No. 1 priority for the 2004 class.

PERHAPS THE BIGGEST plum of the incoming class, though, is Robin Pflugrad. That's right. The Cougar assistant coach announced last week that he's staying in Pullman rather than follow Mike Price to Tuscaloosa. Pflugrad, who has been promoted to assistant head coach, is the Cougars' recruiting coordinator and widely considered on of the finest in the West.

THE GRAYSHIRTS in WSU's upcoming class will be Wes Rainwater, Matt Mullennix and Aaron Ware --- all prep signess from a year ago. In addition, the Cougars will be getting back Aaron Wagner, a standout linebacker returning from his Mormom mission, Dwayne Wright a star JC back who signed with WSU out of high school two years ago, and Lionel Arnold, a JC back who signed a year ago but sat out 2002 with a knee injury.

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