Cougs start LOI week w/ four solid for-sures

VAUGHN LESUMA

LETTERS OF INTENT will be signed Wednesday and while few questions remain in this age of the Web, the fact is that nothing is certain until LOIs are signed and faxed. There have been notable last-minute surprises over the years: Jake Plummer to ASU rather than WSU, Michael Bumpus eschewing USC for Wazzu. Still, WSU's 2007 class does have four sure bets -- one of whom is tip-toeing to the bubble.

Of WSU's newest class of recruits, which will number approximately 25, four already are in the fold. Junior college transfers Vaughn Lesuma and Devin Frischknecht enrolled at WSU a month ago, along with Cornorris Atkins, who signed with the Cougars out of high school a year ago but didn't secure a qualifying SAT score until this past fall.

In addition, there's quarterback Kevin Lopina. While he's been with the team since August -- and, in fact, was named WSU's 2006 scout team offensive player of the year -- he counts toward this class of recruits.

"That's not a bad place to start your LOI Week -- with four guys like that already signed, sealed and delivered," said former CF.C recruiting analyst Jack Evans. "Those aren't the types of prospects who get the media excited, but they're the ones who can help get you to a bowl game."

Adds current CF.C analyst Barry Bolton: "Lesuma is big, smart and agile. He'll compete right away for Charles Harris' old spot at right offensive tackle. Frischknecht has great hands and good size and should have a golden opportunity with Cody Boyd's graduation.

"Atkins is an extraordinary athlete who, quite frankly, might have had a 4-star ranking last year, instead of 1 and then eventually 2, if his academic house had been in order," he added. "Lopina was one of the top 25 quarterbacks in the nation coming out of high school -- a year redhsirting at Kanas State followed by a year running the scout team at WSU only makes him more attractive."
br> Lesuma is perhaps the most intriguing member of the group already on campus. He stands 6-foot-5, weighs 340 pounds and is highly athletic. But get this: He's only played two years of organized football.

"I have a lot of catching up to do," he told CF.C on Sunday. "But I know the coaches (at WSU) are going to help me fit right in. I have two years of eligibility, so there's not a lot of time to watch and learn. I'm here to compete with other good athletes, to establish my spot on the team."

Lesuma grew up in Hawaii on the North Shore of Oahu, but the family moved to Fiji for his high school years when his dad, a school administrator, landed a new job there. They don't play football on Fiji, so Lesuma focused on rugby. After completing a Mormon mission, he tried the gridiron for the first time in 2005 at Snow College in Utah. This past season, at Mt. San Jacinto College in southern California, he started turning heads with his footwork and strength -- as well as impressive maturity and a high-energy atttude.

He chose WSU over offers from Oregon State and San Diego State.

He's been on campus for a month and says the weather in Pullman is just a tad different than the Pacific islands. "It's not Hawaii, that's for sure. I think it's going to be a character builder."

Getting to the Cougars' indoor practice facility for early morning wind sprints, he says, "is testament to my commitment" to excel. "With the ice on the streets and sidewalks, it takes me 25 minutes to walk over to the bubble. My first week here it was minus-7 at that hour of the morning. I was tip-toeing, my knees bent, the whole way so I wouldn't slip."

Lesuma says he chose Washington State because the staff struck him not just as good coaches, but as good men as well. In addition, he says, they emphasized the importance of academics.

"They really stressed it," Lesuma said. "And they've lived up to their promises -- I'm already actively working with counselors and tutors. That says a lot about the school. There will be a day when it's time to hang up the cleats -- you need that education to prepare you for the rest of your life." Here's the run down on the other three members of the Cougars' 2007 recruiting class who already are on campus:

TE DEVIN FRISCHKNECHT
6-3, 250 – Snow College; Manti, Utah

Exploded onto the scene as a pass catcher in 2006, and could figure in prominently for WSU with the graduation of Cody Boyd. Had 54 receptions for 763 yards and nine TDs for the season, ranking him No. 8 nationally among all JC receivers and the No. 1 tight end. Was Snow's offensive MVP in team's bowl game. A full qualifier out of Manti (Utah) High, he was close to accepting an offer from Utah when Urban Meyer left for Florida. Has 3-to-play-2 for the Cougars.

S CORNORRIS ATKINS
6-3, 205 – Reseda, Calif./Cleveland

Signed with WSU a year ago but fell short on the SAT. Now fully qualified and enrolled at WSU. Highly athletic player with size and speed (4.55) who could play receiver, safety or possibly linebacker. Logged 34 tackles as a prep senior in 2005 with two interceptions. On offense, he scored 12 TDs, caught 25 balls for 320 yards, and rushed 21 times for 112 yards. He was recruited by most of the Pac-10 a year ago, but academic concerns limited his offers to WSU, Nevada and Utah State. Could contend for immediate playing time in 2007.

QB KEVIN LOPINA
6-3, 230 – Concord, Calif./ DeLaSalle

Transferred to WSU from Kansas State last summer, but counts toward the Cougars' 2007 recruiting class. Was named WSU's Scout team offensive player of the year during his mandatory year of ineligibility in 2006. Having redshirted his first and only season at Kansas State in 2005, he will have three years of eilgibility for the Cougs starting in 2007. Rated by Scout.com as one of the top 25 prep QB prospects in the nation in 2005 recruiting season. As a high school senior he threw for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, and ran for another 750 yards and 10 TDs. Runner-up for Bay Area player of the year by the Contra Costa Times.

SPECIAL PROGRAMMING NOTE:
As part of our Wall to Wall Signing Day Coverage, Washington State recruiting coordinator Greg Peterson is scheduled to take questions from CF.C subscribers in the Cougfan.com ChatRoom on Letter of Intent Day. The special lunchtime chat with subscribers begins at 12:30 pm on Wednesday. Don't miss it!

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