South Kitsap star checking out options

Ryan Cole is a 6-0, 207-pound running back who plays for South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, Washington. Cole and the SK Wolves lost a tough battle with the Bethel Braves last Friday 48-18 in a game where Ryan admits the better team won.

"They outplayed us," Cole told Dawgman.com. "They just wanted it more. They executed really well and came away with the victory." Ryan gave it his best shot, running for 115 yards and two touchdowns, but it was a little too late.

Ryan also played a little safety, a position he's been playing off and on all season. "Well, I played safety the first four games of the season, but now there's a type of defense where I spy on the quarterback so I had to go in. That's the only time I play safety anymore."

Cole finished the season strong, accounting for 2359 yards and 33 touchdowns for the season. And now that his football year is complete, he's looking for a new challenge. "I'm thinking about wrestling," he said. "I need to do a winter sport. It really helps me when it comes to time management. I do better in school and it helps keep me out of trouble."

He's not only looking for new challenges, he also looking at which college is going to give him the total package. He won't come to that decision lightly either. "Well, now that my high school career is over, I'm going to take all my trips and make my decision in February," said Cole. He doesn't have any firm dates set up currently, but is in the process of setting them up.

And the three schools he'll visit for sure? "Washington, Oregon State and Northwestern," Ryan said. "I want to take all 5." ASU, Oregon, Cal, Washington State, a few more," he said when asked which colleges will battle it out for the final two visits. Here are his current thoughts on his top-3.

Washington - "They've been the most honest with me. They were the first to offer and they offered early. I like Coach Neuheisel and I've met all the coaches. And there's a player from South on their team now, Jimmy Newell. I played with him my sophomore year. And of course, the location is good. It's close to home."

Oregon State - "I like the school and they are offering me a chance to run with the ball. It's pretty close to home, but not too far away. I also like the coaching there."

Northwestern - "I haven't decided if I want to take a trip out there yet. The academics are great there and they have a good program. I have a lot of family in the Chicago area, so it wouldn't feel like I'm too far from home."

Cole's current offers include Washington, Northwestern, Oregon State, Oregon and Cal. "USC has also been calling a lot and seems interested," Ryan added. "Coach Moses calls once a week." All the schools are offering Ryan for offense but Oregon. "It's a possibility," he said when asked about playing defense full-time. "But I'm an offensive player."

The Washington coaches are putting the full-court press on the talented local recruit. "Coach Neuheisel called two weeks ago and Coach Hart called last week," said Cole. "They keep telling me about the program and how they want me to be a part of it. They like my talent and think I could play a big role on the team. They see me at tailback."

And Newell? "Well, he just talked to me about the similarities between the two programs, like 2-a-days, things like that. There's a lot of time dedicated to football."

No matter how wowed Cole gets during his official visits, he still has his eye firmly planted on the finish line. "I need to complete my plan so I don't jump into anything too early," he said. "I want to make sure all the info I need is in front of me."

It appears that all of the schools in the running for Ryan's services understand and are even encouraging him to do whatever it takes to make the best decision he can for himself. "I'm fortunate that the coaches understand my position. The Washington coaches of course want me to think of them first, but they also want me to look elsewhere too."

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