of all, there's Jason Gesser. He's a recruiting wunderkind. If memory serves,
you can count one finger the number of kids he's hosted on official recruiting
trips who haven't ended up signing with the Cougars. Jason embodies the Cougar
spirit and the family feel that makes Pullman special.
So it's no coincidence that two of the most
highly touted members of WSU's newest class of recruits ---- JC offensive
lineman Keola Loo and defensive tackle Tolifil Liufau --- happen to hail from
Jason's prep alma mater, St. Louis High in Honolulu.
No small feat in getting both of them to Pullman
is the fact both were smitten with the notion of playing for the hometown
University of Hawaii. Loo, who could start at center for the Cougars this
season, signed with the 'Bows out of high school before academics rerouted him
to Orange Coast JC. And Liufau was considered by some to be a lean to UH as
recently as ten days ago.
Another member of the new Cougar class is a
direct descendent of the program's "family," both literally and
figuratively --- DB Husain Abdullah. He's the brother of Cougar junior-to-be
Hamza Abdullah and a former Pomona High teammate of Cougar redshirt freshman
For awhile there it looked like Kansas or Arizona State would nab Husain, the CIF Division 9 defensive player of the year
and one of PacWestFootball.com's top DB prospects in the West. But then came his
official trip to Pullman last weekend. Said Husain, "Basically from the
second I got to Washington State to the second I left, everything was perfect.
The players really took me in. When I left there, I knew it was the place for
And get this. Offensive lineman Bobby Byrd of
Oceanside (Calif.) High apparently walked into the WSU football offices
unannounced on an unofficial trip last fall and simply declared that this place
felt like home.
Aw, that family atmosphere. Ya gotta love it.
Over the last several years I've heard it over
and over. And this year it seemed to reach downright deafening proportions.
Perhaps the best example of all is found in the
two kids in this new class from Clover Park High south of Tacoma. Dave
Pritchard, a great teammate of mine on WSU's 1981 Holiday Bowl club, is as
assistant coach at Clover Park. He made sure Cougar coaches were fully aware of
two Clover Park diamonds in the rough that were passing under the major college
So today, a pair of big, athletic kids who will
be no doubt be "coached up" into major college ball players are in the
Cougar family: Linebacker Paul Stevens (6-4, 225) and defensive tackle
Pitoitua (6-7, 240). By the way, it's pronounced Roe-potti Pitoe-two-ah.
The family affair on Planet Coug also took a
unique turn this recruiting season in that Stevens and Pitoitua aren't the only
twosome from the same school in the class. Remarkably, there are two other pairs
from the same school --- Keola Loo and Patrick Afif from Orange Coast JC, and
very promising youngsters Christian Bass and Reshawn Bobo from Canyon Springs
High in Moreno Valley, Calif.
Bill Doba says
receiver Scott Selby of Castle Rock, Wash., likely will be the only member
of the class who will grayshirt, delaying enrollment until January 2004.
Three members of
the class have yet to secure the academic side of the equation: Loo and JC
back Chris Bruhn each have some classwork to wrap up before August, but are
basically considered locks to get it done. Prep defensive tackle Tolifil
Liufau doesn't have a qualifying SAT score and may be forced to go the JC
route, at which time the Cougars would have to recruit him all over again in
two years --- a scenario that has rarely, save for Bruhn, resulted in the
Cougars getting their man back.
star of the class may be Bobby Byrd. Coach Doba raved about him yesterday,
noting that counterparts at Michigan were envious of the Cougars' big new
O-lineman (Byrd stands 6-6, tips in at about 300 and is very agile).
In terms of instant
impact guys, Coach Doba has this to say about his new class: "We have a
pretty good bunch back (from last year), so if they are starting, they are
pretty good. The junior college kids might have a chance at the start of
fall ball. Maybe by mid-season a couple of the freshmen could be ready to
fortuitous. I saw a story the other day about DeMar Baisy, the linebacker/end
from Seattle's Rainier Beach High who verbally committed to WSU last
recruiting season and then switched to Washington about ten days before
signing day. His late defection forced Cougar coaches to scramble and they
come up with a kid who, it turns out, is shaping up to be one fine get for
the Cougars: Odell Howard, a scout team terror this past season. Mike Price
said a year ago that Howard was a "trade up" for the Cougars. And,
it turns out, in more ways than one --- Baisy never qualified academically
and now is playing JC ball.
As long-time Cougar watchers know, the recruiting
hunting grounds for WSU north of the border are not bountiful but usually
fruitful. Rob Meier, Rueben Mayes, Brian Forde, Don Sweet, Ted Gerela, Glenn "Danny Greene is now Sterile" Harper, and the
brothers are among the Canadians who have made big-time hay at Ol' Wazzu over
the years. That pipeline of talent is continuing in a big way.
With the signing yesterday of Jon Conlin of
Vancouver Prep --- an All-Canada linebacker/end considered the finest player in
all of British Columbia --- the Cougars now have three guys on defense from
Canada who figure to knock some serious heads before all is said and done. DE
Adam Braidwood of Delta, B.C., played this past as a true freshman and looked
awesome, and linebacker Aaron Wagner of Lethbridge, Alberta, a kid who easily
could have started this past season, will be back in Pullman in August after
completing his Mormon mission.
OF THE WEEK
Said Coach Doba when asked to size up his first
recruiting class: "They're the biggest, strongest and fastest recruiting
class I've ever signed at Washington State," he said, noting that since
it's his first as head coach, it's also "my slowest, weakest and smallest