JOHNNY FORZANI, THE speedy wideout from Canada who enrolled at WSU last week, has to be the most unique story in the nation this recruiting season. And now his tale takes on more intrigue. After reviewing tape, Scout.com’s West Coast analyst says he was struck by Forzani’s first step, his explosiveness and his size. So the kid was awarded a three-star rating. Here’s what’s remarkable about that.
Almost no one, outside of WSU, Oregon and the handful of other West Coast schools who were sent tape of Forzani had ever heard of him until early January -- at least not in regard to football. He was a basketball standout in high school, but never played a down of prep football.
Now he’s a Pac-10 wide receiver with three stars next to his name.
“On Forzani, you notice first how quick off the line he is,” says Brandon Huffman, Scout’s West Coast analyst. “Some receivers don't utilize their first step right but that's not the case with Forzani.
“He's got very good speed, and has good explosion. His size will help him in the Pac-10, especially against smaller corners. He's got a good combination of speed and strength that you notice early and often in the film. Body wise, he looks like he could be a safety too, but I think receiver is where his best days will be.”
Forzani is 6-1, 204 pounds and has been variously clocked in the 40 between 4.37 and 4.45 seconds by Calgary Stampeders coaches. For the complete back story on Forzani, click to the CF.C feature story "Oh Canada! Fleet WR in Pullman." It can be found on Forzani's player page here.
WITH THE START OF a new semester, attention in the football world sometimes turns to academics. More specifically, whether any athletes failed to make grades in the fall session and thus aren't coming back. WSU's sports information office reports that Paul Wulff has everyone back this semester.
Winter conditioning is underway, with spring workouts set to commence on March 26 and conclude on April 25. Besides Forzani, a second member of the recruiting class that will be fully unveiled on Feb. 4 is already in school and set to participate in spring practices. It's JC transfer tight end Peter Tuitupou. In addition, three members of last year's recruiting class will make their crimson debuts this spring: ofensive linemen Alex Reitnouer and Tim Hodgdon, and defensive tackle Josh Luapo.
IT’S BEEN A WORLD of polar opposites for two former Washington State football players who are now college coaches. Ron Lee, a four-year Cougar starter at defensive back under Jim Walden and Dennis Erickson in the 1980s, was just named co-defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Golden Gophers after six seasons as a DB coach at Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
And Robin Ross, an All-Coast tackle for the Cougars under Jim Sweeney in the 1970s, lost his head coaching job -- for financial reasons. Ross, his staff and players were completely blindsided when Western Washington decided to discontinue its football program after 98 years. Ironically, the Division II school recently won its first-ever bowl game. Cole Morgan, the former Cougar who was in line to be the Vikings’ starting QB next season, told CF.C he’s burning up the phone lines looking for a place to use his final season of eligibility.
Another old Cougar quarterback, Timm Rosenbach, has been named offensive coordinator at New Mexico State. The Aggies' new head coach is former UCLA defensive coordinator Dwayne Walker. Given all the success the Cougs had against the Bruins when Rosenbach was WSU's QB coach, you can understand why Walker would want him.
GAIL GLEASON, THE mom of WSU linebacking great Steve Gleason, was recently honored by WSU with its Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award. Gail is a Ph.D. candidate in WSU’s College of Education and a learning specialist for the Athletic Resource Center. She was honored for the work she and Steve did on the “Backpacks for Hope” project. Fueled by the WSU community, the Gleasons collected almost 8,000 fully supplied backpacks and raised $4,000 to help children displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Gail reports that Steve, now retired from the New Orleans Saints, recently returned from a six-month trek around the world with his new bride. In their travels, they visited schools, organic farms and the like to collect background on environmental sustainability -- an area that Gleason, a devout community guy, wants to pursue now that he’s done with football.