Seen & Heard 2/10

AT THE SAME time I scratch my head over the lack of major college football talent that comes out of Spokane any more, I just marvel at the low-profile Class 2A Southwest Washington League and its ongoing parade of players to Ol' Wazzu.

The latest is Scott Selby, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound receiver/safety from Castle Rock. He's going to grayshirt this season and then redshirt in 2004, all with an eye toward packing on about 40 pounds of muscle between now and then without losing a step of his 4.55 speed. The goal? Turn him into another in WSU's long line of stellar tight ends.

In Pullman he will be joining former Southwest League standouts Pat Bennett of Forks, a part-time Cougar starter in 2002 as a sophomore, honorable mention all-Pac-10 punter Kyle Basler of Elma and scout team guys Shaun Straka of Hoquiam and Tom Griggs of Montesano.

Selby, by the way, was one of two "sleeper" signees in WSU's new recruiting class that many observers thought might be headed to Chris Tormey's Nevada Wolfpack. The other was
Ropati Pitoitua of Clover Park High outside Tacoma.

Selby continues a proud WSU tradition of going to obscure places to find great talent. Other signess of recent years who came from the hinterlands include Brian Boyer of Lapwai, Idaho, Matt Mullenix of Spangle, Wash., and Will Derting of Okanogan, Wash.

I HAD TO CHUCKLE after catching up with the post-signing day commentary of the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta and Ted Miller.

Condotta speculated that the Cougars' in-state take of just three players might be an all-time low for WSU. For me, at least, such a comment implies that there's something wrong with that.

To set the record straight: Mike Price said back in September that he felt bad because the Cougs had so few slots this recruiting season that he didn't think more than a couple local kids would make the cut.

As for Miller, who obviously hasn't watched Cougar recruiting very closely over the years, his commentary on Fox Sports made it sound like WSU ended up with a bunch of Big Sky-caliber kids because they didn't have a ton of rating service stars next to their names.

Newsflash, Ted: The star ratings are bogus and the Cougars never do get a bunch of them in any class. WSU recruits speed, physique and character, coaches the kids up, and then --- Eureka! -- winds up with two Rose Bowl berths in five years. Perhaps you've heard of Erik Coleman, Calvin Armstrong, D.D. Acholonu, Collin Henderson, Jerome Riley and Tyler Hunt. You got it, Ted, all lowly one-star wonders coming out of high school.

And how about Tomasi Kongaika, Mawuli Davis, Drew Dunning and Scott Lunde? All one-time walk-ons who were big-time contributors to the Cougars in 2002.

Tell me, Ted, today --- four years after the fact --- would you rather have five-star phenom Paul Arnold on your team or one- and two-star "also rans" like
Rien Long and Marcus Trufant?

That's what I thought.

Case closed.

Two Cougar verbal commitments got away this recruiting season: WR/DB
Rudy Burgess, who signed with Arizona State, and JC running back Dwayne Wright, who cast his lot with Fresno State. Two other kids believed close to becoming Cougars were speed receivers Brian Paysinger, who signed with Oregon, and Jason Rivers, who stayed with hometown Hawaii.

As for other kids the Cougars took a serious look at, here's where a few of them ended up: DB
Clifton Smith, Fresno State; DB Terrell Thomas, USC; DB Ray Bass, Hawaii; DT Wilson Afoa, Washington; and DB Damon Jenkins, Fresno State.

For those you who attended the Apple Cup or Rose Bowl games, you may have seen those over-sized brown beach balls -- shaped like half a football --- bouncing around the stands. Turns out they're a marketing tool aimed at promoting a Nerf-like football that allows you to play catch all by yourself.

It's true. The "Passback" is basically a Nerf ball, only one end is flattened and contoured and the foam material that it's made of is highly elastic. That means if you throw the ball against a flat surface it'll come right back to you. The better your spiral, the better the bounce back to you. My two boys love it, and I think it's a great training tool for all the up-and-coming
Jason Gesser's out there.

Best of all, the ball is the creation of an ol' WSU student from the late 70s/early 80s, Mike McGonigle of Spokane. To order yours, click to

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