Oh that's right, CougCenter is movin' on up in the world of blogging. Earlier today, I sat down with Cactus HS (Glendale, AZ) OL Denzell Dotson and talked about the recruiting process, the direction Washington State is headed, and how he's adjusting with a new coaching staff in place.
We also talked about calzones. Delicious, delicious calzones.
Dotson will represent the West during the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, to be played at Cowboys Stadium on December 30th. That game can be seen on Fox Sports. Past participants in the O-D All-American Bowl include Cam Newton, Earl Thomas, and Golden Tate. So while, no, this isn't the Army All-American game aired on ESPN, the O-D Bowl is still a big deal.
Scheduled to graduate high school the 22nd of this month, Dotson will be in Pullman in time for the start of Spring Semester on January 9th.
Before the coaching change took place, Dotson was 100% committed to the Cougs. He had an offer to stay closer to home and play for Arizona State, but he chose the bright lights and big city feel of Pullman. After former head coach Paul Wulff was let go, Dotson still wanted to come to Pullman. He loved the coaches, but he committed to the school. The one thing he wanted to make sure before reaffirming his commitment was that he was wanted by the new coaching staff.
A call from Mike Leach and OL coach Clay McGuire the other day did just that.
What did Coach Leach and McGuire say to you during the phone call?
"They had seen my tape. Coach Leach said he liked how I was able to run block as well as pass block. You know, that I was pretty good at both. They said they'd love to have me in Pullman. That's really all it took."
Watching tape of your high school team, it seems as if you ran some variation of a four wide receiver, air it out, spread-type offense.
"Yeah we played in the spread. We didn't just throw the ball; we ran it a bunch, too. But I've basically been playing in an offense similar to what Coach Leach wants to do for my entire football career. That's why he thinks I'm a good fit for his offense."
What position do you think you'll play in college?
"You know, I've played guard basically my whole life, but I also played some center, too. As a guard, I knew everyone's assignments, and I made sure everyone did their jobs. After talking to Coach McGuire, I think center is probably the best position for me. I'm really quick off the ball."
You took your official visit to Pullman for the UNLV game. That was also the official visit for Dalen Jones, Sam Flor, and Eduardo Middleton. All four of you committed to WSU. What happened on that visit?
"Well, we had some good laughs, and some good moments. Dalen was already committed. I talked to Sam and Eduardo, and we all just liked the place. When I got off the plane, it was nothing like Arizona. No mountains, just wheat fields for days. I was worried at first, it seemed like a super small town with like, 100 people. But then I met everyone, and I've never been around so many genuinely nice people. We all talked after the game, and we realized we just loved Wazzu. We loved everything about it. They asked me what I thought we should do, and I just said 'This is the place for me'. One thing I'm gonna have to get used to, though, is the snow."
With your new found love of Pullman, have you used your powers of persuasion to lure any potential recruits to Wazzu?
"Hah actually, yeah, I've tried. There are some great players in this state, and I'm trying to talk them up, trying to get them on board. At the end of the day, they're gonna choose who they're gonna choose, but I'm trying to push Wazzu because I know how good it looks going forward."
When did Wazzu officially offer you?
"During Spring ball this year. Coach Raz talked to my high school coaches, and they mentioned that Wazzu wanted to offer me. Then we got in contact with him and he said, 'Yeah, we really want you.' Wazzu was my first offer, and they were great."
You have offers from other schools. Did they all slow down once you committed to WSU, or did they heat up, asking you to decommit?
"Arizona and Arizona State started slowing up in terms of contact. I think they knew I was 100% committed."
With WSU having such a poor record in the past few years, what made you consider them, and ultimately want to visit?
"They had a bad record, but it sounded like a great place. Plus, they were the first to offer me, and I liked them because of that. I wanted to check it out myself, and see what all the talk was about. I went on a lot of other visits, and they were nice, but didn't quite feel right. With Washington State, it just felt right."
What are your numbers in the weight room looking like these days?
"Great. I bench 380, clean 315, and squat 605. Really, I have to thank the people at Athletic Republic. Specifically Dr. Kristopher Birkeland, and Mike Birkeland. They helped me a lot with footwork, agility training, and just getting better in general. I've been training with them since my freshman year, and wouldn't be where I am now without them."
You were only rated 2 stars from Scout.com. Does seeing that make you angry or upset?
"Not angry, but it makes me want to prove them wrong. A lot of coaches go off of rankings on websites, but I don't think that's fair. I went to a few camps, like one at ASU, and they were all like, "This kid is awesome". I don't think they say that about a lot of 2 stars. So it kinda makes me want to show that I should have been rated much higher."
I've heard you were a pretty quiet, reserved guy off the field. One of the tapes I watched of you was in one-on-one drills where it got a little chippy with the guy you were up against. Does this happen a lot?
"I'm pretty good friends with everyone off the field and everything's great. But when we get on the field, it's time to go to work. The guy in that video was talking a bunch of crap about how much I sucked. Then I planted him in the ground. It happens a lot. Guys talk crap, guys do things to try to get to me like, you know, kneeing me in the back, elbowing me in the throat, that type of stuff. They think I won't do anything. The next play, they're on the ground, hurt. I'm not gonna mess around."
Since the O-D Bowl is on TV, are you gonna do the three hat thing and choose WSU on live TV?
"Hah no, I think everyone knows I'm going to Wazzu at this point. But I'll make sure everyone, my whole family, my mom, my uncle, my grandparents, everyone has some Wazzu hats and shirts on. Get Washington State some more exposure."
Speaking of grandparents, I hear yours are moving to Washington?
"Yep. They're moving up there to be close to me, and watch some games in person. It'll be really nice to have family around. They'll come up in the summer when it's like, 115, 120 in Arizona. Then they'll go back when it starts getting cold."
What super secret talent do you have that people should know about?
"Hah, well ... I'm a great poker player. People never know if I'm bluffing. I love playing cards."
Finally, do you have any questions for Cougar Nation?
"Well I loved my time in Pullman, but wasn't there for very long. What are some good restaurants?"
Sellas is the first place that comes to mind. They have calzones bigger than my head.
"Really? Oh man, I love calzones."
Cougar Country is a must, as well. They have delicious milkshakes, and big, messy burgers.
"Hah sounds like my kinda place."
Old European is really good for breakfast. On Game Day, the line is out the door, though, so you have to get there early.
"I'll make sure to let my family know to get there early."
There are way too many for me to name. Just come check out CougCenter when the article goes up, and read the comment section. I'm pretty sure it'll turn into a post 100% devoted to giving you good places to eat.
"Haha ok thanks."
So there you have it. Denzell Dotson is a quiet, reserved, mountain of a young man who refuses to take crap from anyone on the field. He's had experience in this type of offense already, and he talked about the possibility of starting from Day 1. I am extremely excited for the Spring Game, and even more so for September. Dotson is the kind of recruit we should all be getting really excited about. He's the type of recruit WSU has always counted on to build their program into a winner.
Welcome, Denzell. Also, try the Breakfast Club in Moscow. Their biscuits and gravy are delicious.