Washington State Coach Paul Wulff and his staff are raring and ready for Thursday afternoon to come rolling around.
What’s the big deal about Thursday?
Spring practice will officially begin for the players enrolled at WSU. They will be the focus of the coaching staff for the next month. These next four weeks will be a chance for players to step up and earn playing time, while coaches evaluate personnel and begin building their schemes to make the most of their roster of talent.
Before all attention is turned to the folks already in Pullman, there's good reason to take a look at some of the outstanding student/athletes who will be joining the team this fall.
In previous articles, I offered a brief look at the young men from outside the borders of Washington who will be coming to Pullman to play football. Time to build on the excitement surrounding Cougar football by offering an overview of the Class of 2009 who call the Evergreen State home.
Jamal Atofau played his high school football at Bellevue HS in Bellevue, WA. He was a star safety for Coach Butch Goncharoff, earning three varsity letters. At 5’10” and 185 pounds, Atofau has tremendous quickness and runs a 4.55, a nice combination of speed and acceleration.
The accolades for Atofau are plentiful. His senior year he was named Tacoma News Tribune Northwest Nugget honorable mention. Nice, but there’s a lot more. He’s a Seattle Times Red Chip prospect, Seattle PI Defensive Player of the Year, KingCo 3-A Defensive Player of the Year, and was named preseason All-State by Max Preps.
Ranking and Rating services all had Atofau on their radar. Rivals.com rated him No. 5 among Washington prospects and No. 40 as a safety nationally. Scout.com ranked him No. 27 in their Northwest Hot 100, No. 57 nationally at the safety position, and No. 97 in the West Hot 150.
No question that his mother Janet Atofau is proud of Jamal. He has family ties to WSU as well. His uncle is none other than Cougar great Jack Thompson, whose son Tony is the top returning tight end for WSU this season. One of Jamal’s friends and former teammates is redshirt freshman Eric Block who plays safety too.
Atofau chose Washington State over Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, Idaho, and Idaho State. At one point he was ready to commit to Oregon, but opted to be part of something special that is happening with the football program at Washington State under the leadership of Coach Wulff.
“Jamal is a very physical football player, a blue collar, tough kid who will fit Washington State very well. I am excited about what he is going to bring instantly on the football field and his future career.”
—Coach Paul Wulff on Jamal Atofau
Andre Barrington was a three-year starter for Coach John Meagher at Federal Way HS. The 6’1”, 205-pound defensive star played in the defensive backfield and got plenty of action at linebacker.
His junior year at Federal Way saw him named All-South Puget Sound League North Division on both offense and defense. Barrington rushed for 1,028 yards, scored 13 touchdowns, four two-point conversions, and added another two touchdowns playing defense.
This past season, his senior campaign, Barrington racked up even more hashes, rushing for 1,171 yards and nine touchdowns. His success running the ball begins with his speed, 4.50 in the 40. Andre uses that speed to close fast on defense. He was named honorable mention as a Tacoma News Tribune Northwest Nugget and a Seattle Times Red Chip prospect.
The Associated Press awarded him 4-A All State honorable mention at linebacker along with the TNT All-State Team, Seattle PI All-Star Team, and the Seattle Times Star Times Team on defense. Add to those honors preseason All-State running back by Max Preps.
Rivals.com rated Andre No. 12 prospect in the state of Washington while Scout.com rated him No. 48 on the Northwest Hot 100, No. 59 at his position nationally, and No. 141 on their West Hot 150.
Andre is the son of Roderic and Brenda, along with his older brother Travis and younger sister Brittany.
“Andre is a good athlete. He is going to mature and as he matures he is going to develop and his frame is going to allow him to be a nice, big linebacker when it is all said and done. He is going to be a very good player as he grows into his position.”
—Coach Paul Wulff on Andre Barrington
More of the incoming Class of 2009 will be profiled the rest of this week so be sure to visit this column in the coming days.
The future looks bright for Coach Wulff and the WSU football program.