Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

DEONE BUCANNON

SCOUT.COM IS OUT this week with its top 100 list for April's NFL draft. WSU All-American safety Deone Bucannon is pegged at No. 74. That placement would find him going near the top of the third round. Scout ranks Bucannon the No. 4 safety behind HaHa Clinton-Dix of Alabama, Calvin Pryor of Louisville and Ahmad Dixon of Baylor.

Bucannon will have a golden opportunity to increase his draft stock starting this weekend when he reports for Senior Bowl workouts in Mobile, Ala. The all-star game affords top prospects a chance to practice with NFL coaches for an entire week before the game. This year's staffs will come from the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars.

NFLDraftScout.com projects Bucannon as the No. 1 strong safety in the draft, No. 62 overall prospect and a second round selection.

HOW ABOUT THAT MIKE PRICE coaching tree? In the span of a week, three of the old Cougar head man's former assistants made headlines by landing high-profile head coaching jobs.

Mike Zimmer, Price's defensive coordinator at WSU from 1989-93, is the new boss of the Minnesota Vikings after many years as the DC with the Bengals. Meanwhile, in the college ranks, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, a WSU graduate assistant under Price in 1998, took over at Penn State, while Bobby Petrino, a Price assistant at Weber State, moved from Western Kentucky back to his old haunts at Louisville.

Another of Price's old Cougar assistants, Tim Lappano, was part of the collateral damage in the Detroit Lions' recent firing of head coach Jim Schwartz. Lappano had been on Schwartz's staff with the Lions since 2009.

SPEAKING OF MIKE PRICE'S WIDESPREAD legacy, the biggest recruit he landed when he was a WSU assistant coach under Jim Sweeney in the 1970s, is being saluted in a big way this weekend in southern California. Jack Thompson , the record-shattering Throwin' Samoan, was tabbed to be one of the head coaches in the 4th annual Polynesian All-American Bowl, which features high school seniors of Polynesian descent. This past fall Thompson was one of seven former college and pro players elected to the inaugural class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.

Among those playing in the game, which kicks off Saturday at 2 p.m. at Tustin High, are two touted linemen that Mike Leach and staff are aiming to bring to WSU: offensive guard Kammy Delp of Pomona and defensive end Austin Maloata of Corona. Malota tripped to WSU in November.

Maloata is verbally pledged to USC but recently said he's going to weigh all his options and announce on Signing Day. Besides USC, his top five includes WSU, UCLA, Arizona State and Ole Miss.

Delp took an official visit to WSU back in October but now sounds like a long shot for the Cougs, with Arizona State in the driver's seat. If he were to join the Cougs' current recruiting class, he'd be the heaviest by a long ways. He checks in at 330 pounds. The next closest among WSU's verbal commits is fellow offensive lineman Brandon Evers, at 290. Delp, however, wouldn't be the tallest member of the class. He stands "only" 6-foot-4. The rest of the Cougars' four O-line commits stand between 6-5 and 6-7.

WSU HALL OF FAME FOOTBALL PLAYER Duke Washington was one of the pioneers in integrating Cougar football back in the day. He also played a major role in bringing athletic integration to the University of Texas in 1954. As captain of the Cougars that season, he became the first black athlete to set foot on the field at UT when the Cougs took on the Longhorns in Austin. His 73-yard TD run that day produced a standing ovation from the Texas student section.

Over lunch with Cougfan.com co-founder Greg Witter, Washington smiled broadly when asked – following the recent hiring of Charlie Strong -- if he ever could have imagined a black man being the head football coach at Texas. "The time between my appearance at Texas and the hiring of Charlie Strong was close to 60 years – it was just a matter of time!" he quipped.

WHILE WSU COACHES ARE LOATHE to disclose anything to do with player health, the grapevine around Pullman is convinced that Cougar linebacker Chester Su'a, who redshirted this past season for reasons never disclosed but speculated to be a back injury, is fully healthy and should be ready to roll for spring ball.

That would give the Cougars' linebacking corps a major boost. Su'a is considered to have high-ceiling potential, and he also has experience, having played in every game – including six starts – in the 2011 and '12 seasons.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND RESERVE your spots. The annual "Night with Cougar Football" dinners are slated for Feb. 5 (LOI Day) in Spokane, Feb. 7 in Kennewick, Feb. 8 in Beaverton, and March 7 in Seattle. Mike Leach will be the featured speaker and Cindy Brunson of ESPN and Murrow College fame will be the emcee. Call 877-IMACOUG or click to CougarAthleticFund.com to book your seat.

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