Recruiting Roundup 1/27

WSU'S KICKOFF RETURN depth appears set for years to come with two members of the 2003 Cougar recruiting class whose last names alone --- Hill and Rainwater --- portend a torrent yardage for Cougar special teams in 2004 and beyond. <i>Plus, <b>Ben Woodard</b>'s '04 travel plans.</i>

Jason Hill (6-3, 175), runner-up to USC-bound Eric Wright for San Francisco Player of the Year this past season, was a standout at wide receiver and defensive back but was positively electric on specal teams, returning kickoffs for touchdowns of 95, 94 and 93 yards. He also had a 56-yard punt return. He runs the 40 in 4.5, but his incredible overall athleticism (he's also a star basketball player) is what makes him so dangerous when back deep.

Wes Rainwater, who signed with the Cougars a year ago but held off full-time enrollment until this month, racked up 1,224 all-purpose yards and eight TDs as a senior at Kent's Kentrdige High in 2001. He was named the South Puget Sound League's special teams player of the year in 2001 for his exploits as a punt and kick returner, which included a 71-yard punt return in the first round of the playoffs. The 5-11, 180-pounder with 4.5 speed in the 40 projects as a cornerback for the Cougars.

SPEAKING OF GUYS who have delayed enrollment, word on the Palouse is that Ben Woodard (6-5, 230), a standout linebacker/tight end from Cheney High who signed with the Cougars in February 2001, is expected to be on campus a year from now after wrapping up his Mormon Mission this fall. As a prep senior he originally cast his lot with BYU, but reconsidered when the Cougars made a late run after one of their earliest verbal commits that year, linebacker Trent Bray, opted to follow his dad Craig to Oregon State.

AND SPEAKING OF Mormon missions, the Cougars this season will welcome back Aaron Wagner, a 6-2, 221-pound linebacker who left on his two-year trek shortly after posting monster-sized numbers in the 2001 Crimson & Gary game in Spokane. He hails from Canada, where he was an All-Alberta pick at Lethbridge High.

IN OTHER RECRUITING news, reports today that tackle Wilson Afoa, Hawaii state defensive player of the year, has narrowed his list to WSU, Washington and hometown Hawaii. It generally looks to be a dead heat among the three, though theInsiders think the Cougars and Huskies may have a very slight edge for UH. This past season the 6-3, 260-pound Afoa posted 19 tackles for loss and was credited with 44 QB hurries. He's from Jason Gesser's alma mater, St. Louis High in Honolulu.

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