Prep coach: New Coug is an all-purpose force

TYRONE DUCKETT, one of the members of WSU's new class of football recruits, is so athletic that he can throw a pass 60 yards, kick a ball 50 and "run like a deer," says one of his assistant coaches at Encinal High outside Oakland. But that's not what stands out about the 6-0, 200-pound safety. "He is a big-time hitter with a nose for the ball," defensive assistant Barry Ford told CF.C.

In a class that Paull Wulff believes is WSU's best in 25 years, Duckett's resume stands out in a crowd. It's not because he has blazing speed. He doesn't. It's not because he was wooed by every team in the Pac-10. He wasn't.

It's because he's an athlete with a capital "A." He played four postions for Encinal this past season and five last season. For good measure, he was team captain. And he's also a heck of a baseball and basketball player, though he gave up the latter to spend more time on football.

At the end of the day, however, the kid loves to knock heads and make plays.

"His hitting skills remind me of Taylor Mays at USC and his ball hawking reminds me of my old friend Dewey Hale, a big-play guy at Cal ten years ago," said Ford.

"Tyrone is a big hitter. He only knows one speed. He gets fired up. It'll be tough (for WSU) to put him on the scout team because he's probably going to knock somebody out," Ford quipped.

Ford called Duckett a student of the game whose ability to read quarterback tendencies is "almost superhuman." But then again, Duckett knows a thing or two about quarterbacking because he was Encinal's starting signal caller in 2009 and led the team to 12 wins. He passed for 905 yards and 14 TDs and rushed for another 938 hashes and 13 TDs en route to winning his league's Back of the Year award.

He also punted and kicked field goals. In the secondary, he posted 67 tackles (five of them sacks), picked off two passes and forced four fumbles. His efforts earned him All-Bay and All-State honors.

As a junior, Duckett also starred on defense, and on offense he served as backup QB to Jonathan Brown (now at Boise State) while racking up more than 700 rushing and receiving yards and 12 TDs as a running back. Encinal posted a perfect 13-0 record that season and took the state's North Coast title.

"He's a great kid, a good student and a real team leader," says Ford. "He's the first one in the weight room and the last one out. He likes to work on his craft. He has a work ethic."

During the recruiting process Ford said Duckett hit it off swimmingly with WSU assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball. "Tyrone would love to be a coach himself some day – after the NFL, that is. He said he'd like to coach for Coach Ball someday ... He (Ball) was straight forward in recruiting, there was no BS. He put it on the table – he wasn't selling you anything, he was being honest.

NOTABLE: Duckett is an outfielder on the Encinal baseball team. The school has a rich baseball history, having produced such Major Leaguers as Willie Stargell, Dontrelle Willis and Jimmy Rollins.

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