THE HEADLINE-GRABBING part of the 2010 recruiting cycle is done, but if you look at some of the fine print from recent days you’ll see that there’s an ongoing subplot to the talent wars. Namely, that Washington State is as aggressive in landing preferred walk-ons as any school in the nation.
Mind you, I grew up in Texas. They say football is a religion in those parts. As such, recruiting is a sacrament. I know serious recruiting when I see it.
So it’s fairly head-turning to witness the zeal with which Paul Wulff and his staff are going after walk ons.
The latest to surface is 6-3, 205-pound quarterback Gordy Anderson of 2009 Narrows League champion South Kitsap. The South Kitsap Sun reports that the first-team all-league and TNT all-area performer camped at WSU the past two summers and became very familiar to, and with, the Cougar coaching staff.
ANDERSON SHOWS OFF ARM ANGLE AT QWEST THIS PAST FALL.
Anderson threw for a school-record 1,859 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2009. He completed a whopping 103 of 180 passes.
He is the seventh known walk-on in WSU’s 2010 recruiting class. The others are:
Austin Ehlo – Craig’s son and an all-league receiver at Spokane’s Lewis and Clark High. Good size (6-3, 185), good feet and nice hands. Also a standout basketballer.
Jake Miller – An all-classifications All-State kicker and punter from Spokane’s Central Valley High. Averaged 41.3 yards per punt.
Jacob Sealby – A record-setting All-State running back from Wenatchee High who will play linebacker at WSU.
Lucas Sealby – Jacob’s twin brother and an all-league performer who excelled on both sides of the ball at Wenatchee. He’ll also be a linebacker at WSU.
Andrew Furney – A three-time Class 2A All-State kicker from Burlington-Edison who holds the state record for most career field goals (33). As a senior in 2009 he made 44 straight PATs and kicked 14 FGs with a long of 47 yards.
Zack Johnson – A two-time first-team WesCo North linebacker from Stanwood. Has a nice frame (6-4, 230) that could make him a tight end or defensive end. Also a standout basketballer.
Preferred walk-ons differ from regular walk ons in that they're allowed to start practicing with the team when fall camp opens vs. waiting until classes begin. Each school is allowed a handful of preferreds each year.
The speed and zeal that Wulff and staff are showing in this part of the recruiting game suggests that they've done serious homework on the in-state talent pool.
WSU has had some highly notable walk ons over the years. Three went on to earn first-team All-American honors: kicker Drew Dunning in 2003, kicker Jason Hanson in 1989 and 1991, and center Geoff Reece in 1974.
WSU's 1998 Rose Bowl team featured five starters whose careers began as walk ons: Cory Withrow, Rian Lindell, Lee Harrison, Todd Nelson and Shawn Tims. Withrow and Lindell have gone on to long NFL careers.
Other notable Cougar walks on over the years included Don Sweet, Gavin Hedrick, Tim Davey, Kyle Basler, Mawuli Davis, Scott Lunde, Tomasi Kongaika, Mike Shelford, Josh Duin, 2008 starting offensive lineman Brian Danaher, 2009 part-time starter Casey Hamlett, current WSU co-defensive coordinator Jody Sears, and former Chicago Bears running back Ken Grandberry.
* A few seats are still available for this Friday's "Night with Cougar Football" dinner and auction in Seattle. The gathering will be held at the Marriott Waterfront. Social hour starts at 5 p.m., followed by dinner and program. Brandon Gibson, Ryan Leaf, Jed Collins, Mkristo Bruce, Jason Gesser, Jack Thompson, Robbie Tobeck and other celebs will be on hand. Paul Wulff will provide a player-by-player run down of the new recruiting class. Contact Todd Thrasher at 206-448-1330 or email@example.com.