Recruiting and other updates galore

Found some good inside info on many players committed to WSU or thinking about it (yes, I broke down and bought an “inside” account for this stuff).

First, the big fish – Jonathon “SNOOP” Stewart.

He now has received full scholarship offers from Ohio State, Florida and Tennessee, on top of everyone else on the West coast. Jim Tressel has been calling him personally, and he gave him the offer 2 weeks ago. He is taking his full 5 visits before he commits anywhere, of course, and he is still wide open. Visit #1 is this coming weekend, at WSU for the SC game.

How do we rank in all this?? In a recent interview, he acknowledged that he DOES in fact have many friends that are already at WSU or are committed to playing football there next year, and he will be taking his trip with a few of those friends. But, he then says “the fact that I have a lot of friends there has NOTHING to do with my final decision. It is only 4 hours away from Olympia and I like what I’ve seen so far, but I’m still wide open.” I also spoke with a UW higher-up this weekend that has good inside info that says WSU is right in there fighting for Stewart. Levenseller is the big key, as he has been recruiting him the most and the two have a good relationship since Stewart was at the WSU football camp. Stewart will join a stand-out list of athletes playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, January 15, 2005 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Many players commit to their teams during that game, using the stage of ESPN to announce their future plans. It’s the same place that Aaron Klovas, last year’s all-american lineman, picked the Ducks over the Cougs. So, we’ll probably know for sure where he’s headed by then, if not sooner? The thing to feel good about?? We’re still high on the list.

Arkelon Hall – #20 rated QB from Fresno, Hall has been a vocal Coug commit since last summer and was part of the EA Sports Elite 11 camp. He’s 6-2, 205, runs a 4.8 so he’s quick, and is regarded as having a great arm. Also is tremendous in the west coast/one back hybrid offense, same as WSU runs right now. Through seven games this season, Hall has completed 90 of 148 passes for 1,569 yards and 15 TDs. Threw 34 TD’s and only 5 picks last year. He will be visiting WSU officially this weekend, but he has been committed since the summer and it will only be to re-affirm his commitment. You can read into it that since he and Stewart are friends, that he will be working on him a little???

Dartangan Johnson – highly rated JC running back that has come out of nowhere to list the Cougs as the leader, ahead of USC! He’s actively recruited by USC, Utah, Arizona, Missouri and the Cougs, and he claimed on 10/19 that the Cougs are the leader and he will officially visit (and commit??) in December. Might be the fallback if we miss out on Snoop. Check out the vitals:

Height: 6-0

Weight: 215

40 time: 4.5

Bench: 305

Squat: 500

Clean: 280

His team is 4-1 and Johnson has 711 yards and five touchdowns on 120 carries.

Shelton Danzy – big commit that is selling WSU like crazy. Stats – 653 rushing yards in just 65 carries this year. His 10.0 yards per carry average is second-best in the entire Puget Sound region behind Bellevue’s J.R. Hasty (13.0). With 10 TDs, Danzy is the second-leading scorer in the Metro League. Danzy projects as a cornerback at Washington State. He is scheduled to take his official recruiting visit to Pullman on Saturday. Also a close friend of Jonathan Stewart.

Marcus Burton – big-time Texas high school linebacker, just committed to WSU on 10/18. 6-2, 228, runs a 4.6 40. Chose the Cougs over Oklahoma, Okie State, Colorado, Arkansas and Missouri, among others. Considered a big “get” and one that some attribute to the Texas Holiday Bowl victory last year, putting the Cougs on the radar in the state of Texas.

Some of his quotes: What was it about the situation at Pullman that appealed to Burton? “When I watched them play, their defense played very aggressively,” he said. “They did a lot of blitzing and sent their linebackers off the edge a lot. I feel like that’s one of my strongest attributes – attacking from off the edge. I feel I’ll be able to contribute doing that, maybe as an outside linebacker.” So how did Burton break the news? “I called Coach (Leon) Burtnett first, but then he found Coach (Bill) Doba and we all talked about it,” said Burton. “They were pretty excited about it. They were happy that I made the choice and they said that they are looking forward to seeing me there.”

Other stuff is happening, and this is considered a big visit weekend. Hope for at least a respectable showing against the #1 team in America. Also hope the weather holds? Latest word is upper 30’s with rain/mixed snow.

On to the field – do you think we can hang with USC? I think we’ll be in it for a little while, but with that D-line and all that speed, period, WOW comes to mind. As Bill Doba said about Reggie Bush, if you get a linebacker on him, “you might as well start singing their fight song, because it’ll be playing shortly!” Great quote.

Just hope they don’t feel like being in Pullman in cruddy weather, and maybe this is a pothole game for them? You know we’ll be fired up to play them, that’s for damn sure. Hey, stranger things have happened, so why not? Still, we are beat up pretty bad. Would I like our chances with a healthy Swogger??? Of course. Brink’s weenie arm doesn’t bode well for throwing the ball down the field, but in reality, he did have some decent moments last week. It’s not like he’s as bad as Bonnell or Stanback at UW (they are HORRIBLE).

Anyway, injuries are part of college football, and this year it hurts more than others, being so young to begin with. So this season has gone from a mission for a bowl game when we were 3-1, to 3 games later, already looking ahead to 2005 and recruiting. Let’s just hope that things get better as these guys get time on the field, and best of all, the young players IMPROVE as the season goes on. They can really be part of something special starting next year and beyond, but the hard work starts now.

Doba, on Derting and his play in the middle thus far:

“He’s playing well,” Doba emphasized. “He’s got two freshman tackles there in front of him (most of the year) and that makes it tough, but he’s doing a nice job. He overran a few things, I think he was just trying to make some plays and he’s just getting back with that wrist healing up.” Derting has been unable to to do any weightlifting with that arm, having worn a cast most of the season as the dislocation healed. He has only recently been able to return to the weight room and get in his normal workout.

Sounds like the wrist might have been more of a hinderance than some thought. Still, Doda admitted to talking to Akey and others last week about moving Will back to the outside, where he can be more free to make plays. Doba said that at MLB, it’s just not a big-play spot for this defense, and he said by design we try to funnel things outside where our speed on D can make plays. Therefore you see Scott Davis leading the team in tackles, but Doba is quick to point out that Davis is having a great year, but also says that he is benefitting from scheme as well. So we’ll see.

I’ll say this – from the games I’ve watched this year, it’s obvious that Derting is just not making the same amount of big plays that he made last year. Maybe he’s just not a middle linebacker. Or, worse, maybe there is just nobody capable behind him to play in the middle? Personally I’d like to see Brian Hall play in the middle, and move Derting back outside with Davis and cut them loose. Combine that with the weakness our D has shown, well, it’s bad.

I heard Jim Walden say something interesting on Saturday, and he mentioned it about our blitzes. He said he heard that the last 3 games, opposing coaches have figured something out with our D and Derting specifically. He said that defensively they can tell when Derting is going to blitz, and it’s not just Derting but some other thing are happening defensively that show the blitz is coming. When they see that, he said QB’s have been hot-routing into some quick slants to the area that Derting is vacating, and our safety play has been poor of late and we’re not covering the area Derting is leaving open. Or they audible into a quick-hitter or a screen or a shovel pass to counter the aggressiveness, and we’ve been KILLED the last 3 games by those types of plays. Who knows.

Hey, we have good coaches, they’ve seen what’s happened the last few games, they’ll make adjustments. The question is, are we good enough to overcome a brutal schedule down the stretch? Nothing is impossible. ASU and UCLA are tough road games, but they aren’t exactly perfect either. UCLA gave up 31 points to an awful UW team. ASU lost 45-7 to USC. So it’s not impossible. Are both teams better than WSU? Yes. Can they be beaten? Of course. Just think, it would be nice going into the Apple Cup at 5-5 with a win meaning a bowl game, while UW comes in 2-8 with the vultures circling Grimmace on the sidelines.

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