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For full coverage of the WSU 2011 football recruiting class -- including more on Sankey -- visit CougCenter Recruiting Central.


Bishop Sankey was the first commit of the 2011 football recruiting class, and let's just say that raised more than a few eyebrows around the state.

Yes, he's from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, and yes, Paul Wulff and Co. have done a good job recruiting Eastern Washington. But Sankey is widely regarded as the top running back in the state, and his verbal commitment so early in the process was pretty surprising, given his high profile and the ... um ... low profile of the WSU program over the past two seasons.

So what's all the fuss about? Other than the 2,000-plus yards, 17 TDs and numerous all-state first team accolades as a junior? See for yourself:


The speed is obvious, but that's not what I think makes Sankey special. There are a lot of fast guys out there -- many of whom project to other positions when they get to the Pac-10 level. What sets Sankey apart is his ability to accelerate in and out of his moves. You see him stop, change direction, and get back up to full speed quickly. Sort of like another guy who was pretty successful at WSU.

Is the comparison perfect? No -- Sankey's frame is bigger than Harrison's, and his change of direction doesn't seem as sudden. But Sankey is very much like Harrison in one key way: his ability to change direction while still moving forward -- a hugely underrated skill at this level, and a skill many running backs simply don't possess. They dance, they don't really move, they get dropped for a loss or a short gain. They never get a chance to show their speed because they need an enormous hole and a running start before they can get it going. Sankey's much better than that.

This is normally the part of the Coug Commit feature where I talk about how the player fits in with the Cougs, what his niche might be, etc. But let's be frank: Sankey would fit in any program in the Pac-10. He would be an unbelievable asset to the Cougs, who still are in need of elite-level talent. He certainly is that.

Given that, and his early verbal, it should hardly be surprising that Sankey's commitment to WSU doesn't appear to be etched in stone. He says he's still committed to WSU, but he is planning on taking the rest of his official visits. I can hardly blame Sankey for wanting to see the country while being made to feel like the most special person in the world; it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I'll never begrudge a kid for wanting to experience it. In a perfect world, a player wouldn't make a verbal commitment until he's taken his trips, but it is what it is.

Besides, all things being as they are a the moment, would you rather not have a commitment from Sankey now? Me either.

All we can do us hope he sticks with Wulff and his staff. There is no doubt we need more guys like him on the team.

Want more? Follow me on Twitter @NussCoug.