BRINK: All-time greatest Oregon Coug
LOGAN MAYES, THE latest verbal commit in Paul Wulff’s 2011 recruiting class, is in rare company. When he signs his letter of intent with Ol’ Wazzu come February, he will become just the fourth prep athlete from Oregon since 2000 to accept a football scholarship to WSU. We’re talking a span of 12 recruiting classes.
The primary reasons for that paucity are obvious. First, Oregon and Oregon State obviously rule that market. And second, the state of Oregon -- with a population dramatically smaller than Washington’s -- just doesn’t produce a ton of Division IA talent. If memory serves, it's an average of 12 to 15 scholie winners a year vs. 35 or so out of Washington.
In a nod to full disclosure, calling Mayes an Oregonian is a bit of a stretch. Yes, he’s spent his high school years in Eugene, but the fact is he grew up in Pullman when dad Rueben was working at WSU.
Nonetheless, this strapping outside linebacker counts as an Oregon prospect. Only three other Oregonians have signed LOIs with WSU since 2000: Record-setting Alex Brink of Eugene, who went crimson in 2003, and two current Cougar players -- defensive end Adam Coerper of Hood River and safety Jay Matthews of Lake Oswego – who signed in 2008 when Wulff put together his first recruiting class in less than two months.
Coerper and Matthews aren’t the only current Cougars who hail from Oregon, though. Two walk ons -- tight end Zach Tatman (Salem) and quarterback/punter Dan Wagner (Portland) are from south of the Columbia.
While the state of Oregon’s pipeline to Pullman has been modest over the years, it has been notable. One of the outstanding centers in WSU history, Ron Vrilcak of the mid 1960s, hailed from Beaverton. So did his Cardiac Kids teammate Rick Sheron. Offensive lineman Lee Harrison, a mainstay on the Cougars’ 1997 Rose Bowl team, was from Bend. Two crimson notables from the late 60s/early 70s, fullback Steve Hamilton and defensive back/punter Mike Monahan, were from Portland. Wayne Berry, a multi-dimensional WSU standout in the early ‘50s, was from LaGrande. In the early 90s there was safety Todd Jensen (Salem) and lineman Mike Bailey (Medford). There also were the Hawkins brothers (Adam and Blair) from Pendleton and, more recently, walk on linebacker Chris Baltzer, who prepped with Brink at Sheldon High in Eugene.
JUST HOURS BEFORE MAYES became the fifth known verbal commit in WSU's 2011 recruiting class, running back/safety Chester Su'a of Honolulu became the fourth. When he signs his letter of intent, he will become just the third product of Hawaii since 2000 to go crimson. The others were current WSU defensive end Jordan Pu'u Robinson, a member of the 2009 recruiting class, and Tolifili Liufau, who signed in 2003 but never made it to campus due to academic hurdles. The most famous Hawaiian Cougar, Jason Gesser, was part of the 1998 recruiting class.
There is a chance Sa'u won't be the only Hawaiian in WSU's 2011 class. The Cougars also have offered a scholie to Gesser-esque quarterback Trent McKinney of Mililani and his interest in the Cougs looks to be strong.
WITH FIVE VERBAL COMMITS already in this recruiting cycle, Wulff is ahead of last year’s pace when he secured pledges from three by the time the May Evaluation Period ended. The year before that, he secured his first two commits in June. And the year before that, with so much uncertainty over Bill Doba’s future, the Cougs didn’t land their first three commits until November.
At five early commits, the Cougs are on the same pace as USC in this cyle. Stanford leads the way with 14, followed by Washington at 10. Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona State are at zero, while Oregon and Arizona are at two each and Cal is at three.
IF YOU THOUGHT WSU was going to corner the market this recruiting cycle on football prospects named Max, you’re mistaken. While it’s true that the Cougs dominate the All-Max Team with verbal commitments from Max Hersey of Tacoma and Max Gama of La Mirada, Calif., there have been three other kids named Max who have verbaled to other BCS-conference schools so far this cycle.
The most notable among them is quarterback Max Wittek of Santa Ana, Calif., who has pledged allegiance to USC three weeks ago. He is rated the No. 16 prep QB prospect in the nation. Last week the Trojans also offered Cody Kessler, who is ranked No. 15 and apparently quite smitten with the notion of going to Troy too. Makes one wonder if Wittek might be rethinking matters.
The Cougar Celebrity Golf Classic is set for July 30 in Pullman at the celebrated Palouse Ridge Golf Club. A Who’s Who of CouGreats, from Jim Walden to Chris Ball, Mark Rypien to Ryan Leaf, will be on hand. For more information or to register, head to palouseridge.com.
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