Future Coug Cleveland rebuffs Pac-10 advances

BUILDING AND MAINTAINING strong relationships over recruiting's long haul is crucial -- the strength of bond between coaches and committed recruit is what often keeps a recruit firmly committed, especially if and when other schools start charging hard after them. Take future Cougar TE Asante Cleveland, for example, when another Pac-10 school recently started showing him the recruiting love..

Sacramento's Asante Cleveland verballed to WSU months ago, so he may have been out of sight, out of mind for many Cougar fans. Not so for the WSU coaches. And not so for other Pac-10 schools.

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When another Pac-10 school ramped up the full court press, showering him with compliments and trying to fly him out for the weekend, he told them no thanks.

"ASU started to really talk to me about a week or so ago, they were trying to get me to come up for a visit," said Cleveland. "I told them I wasn't really interested in doing that.

"I know where I'm going -- Washington State."

CLEVELAND WAS A first team all-leaguer his senior year -- at receiver. Already at 6-5, 235 pounds with 4.7 speed in the 40 when he entered his senior campaign, he'll come to WSU as a tight end.

He's also a star basketball player and track and field athlete at Christian Brothers High.

CLEVELAND WAS UP for his official visit to Washington State way back on the season's opening weekend in September. It was a large group, numbering eight, and seven of those visitors -- yes, seven -- have since verbally committed to Paul Wulff and the Cougs.

Deone Bucannon was among those on that same trip and is also a Cougar verbal. ASU came running after him as well. Indeed, Bucannon was planning on taking a visit to ASU last weekend before eventually changing his mind, cancelling the trip and reaffirming his commitment to WSU. When all of that was going on, Bucannon got a call from Cleveland.

"That was the same day they were talking to me about a visit," said Cleveland. "So I asked him about it and he said he was thinking about taking a visit up there. I told him he (should stick with WSU) and that he's already committed...and he did feel the same way. It all worked out in the end.

"We've kept in touch and gotten really close since that recruiting trip of the WSU-Stanford game. He came to one of my football games and I went to one of his. And I still keep in contact with (others from the Sep. 5) recruiting weekend."

CLEVELAND HAS two stars next to his name but that might not still be the case some Signing Day. His senior tape will be headed to Scout.com in the weeks ahead and his athleticism and skills "leap off the page" according to what an opposing prep coach who saw Cleveland live this year told CF.C last month.

Cleveland said Jody Sears, who has run the recruiting point on him for the Cougs, came by for an in-home visit last night. He's also kept in close touch this season with future position coach Rich Rasmussen and assistant head coach Chris Ball. A hot topic of conversation between him and the Cougar coaches is the recruiting class Cleveland is part of at Washington State.

"We talk about the new commits," said Cleveland. "And I'm excited to see where my place will be on the team."

Cleveland's athleticism is such that the tight end could even be flexed out wide at WSU in some offensive sets, potentially creating match-up problems galore for opposing defenses.

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