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Originally published Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 6:51 PM

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Cougars recruit Jalen Canty is talented, and raw

Jalen Canty, a 6-foot-8, 270-pound defensive lineman from Vallejo, Calif., is an exceptional athlete who might play basketball for Washington State as well as football.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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As with every recruit signing a national football letter Wednesday, Washington State’s have a whole range of possibilities before them. Four years ago, Deone Bucannon was an unheralded safety who became a first-team All-American, but he had classmates who did little.

The name Jalen Canty, though, seems destined to be remembered at WSU — one way or another — because he’s a very large package wrapped in potential and promise.

Canty, 6 feet 8 and 270 pounds, is expected to be one of the WSU class of signees Wednesday. Between six athletes already enrolled and those who will sign, it appears the Cougars have gone heaviest for defensive backs (six) and linemen (nine), split on both sides of the ball.

One of those defensive linemen is Canty, of St. Patrick-St. Vincent High in Vallejo, Calif., and assuming he signs, he’ll come with considerable buildup.

“That kid could play anything, man,” says the defensive coordinator at the school, Bobby Brooks.

Canty’s coach for just one season, Brennan Marion, says, “If he’d played football for all four years, he’d be the No. 1 recruit in the nation.”

Talk is cheap around signing day, of course. But what lends intrigue, if not credence, to the Canty story is that both Marion and Brooks have some high-level playing experience themselves.

In 2007, Marion broke an NCAA record with a stunning 31.9 yards per catch on 39 receptions at Tulsa.

Brooks was a backup linebacker in the NFL for four years (1999-2002) with Oakland and Jacksonville.

“He’s athletic as all-get-out,” says Brooks of Canty. “The person he really reminded me of a lot was Darrell Russell.”

The late Russell was the USC defensive tackle who was taken No. 2 overall in the 1997 NFL draft by the Raiders.

Brooks concedes basketball is Canty’s “first love,” and indeed, he says WSU left open the option of being a two-sport athlete.

Canty played some youth football, but gravitated toward basketball and apparently didn’t come back to football until his senior year.

A year ago, St. Patrick-St. Vincent had just endured a hazing scandal that saw several football players expelled and the head coach fired. Marion was hired, and he turned the defense over to Brooks.

“Everybody told me I was crazy for putting (Canty) on a football field, how I was ruining his life,” said Marion. “All these basketball coaches called me, and they were mad.”

Marion says Canty turned in 22 sacks. Meanwhile, the Cougars had recruited Canty early and won out over Utah and what Marion says was a growing group of interested schools, including Oregon and UCLA.

“(WSU) kept it real with him,” Marion said. “They didn’t sell him a dream or anything.”

Both coaches talk about Canty having run a 4.5 40, remarkable speed for a prospect so big. But as with most signees, he comes with a warning label. Canty was able to dominate smaller players in high school, and the switch to high-level football could be a challenge.

“He has to get used to the grind and pounding of everyday football, and it being like a lifestyle,” says Marion.

Brooks cautions that Canty is “really, really raw,” and adds: “What football demands is totally different from what basketball demands. That’s going to be the question: Will he be able to handle that?”

WSU fans are eager to find out.

WSU commitments
The Cougars have commitments from 23 players, including three that count against last year’s class and 20 for the class of 2014.
Position, player School
WR Zaire Andre Inglewood (Calif.) HS
DE Nick Begg Santa Margarita Catholic HS (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
QB Peyton Bender Cardinal Gibbons HS (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
RB Squally Canada Milpitas (Calif.( HS
DE Jalen Canty St. Patrick-St. Vincent HS (Vallejo, Calif.)
OT Andre Dillard Woodinville HS
OT Brandon Evers Enterprise HS (Redding, Calif.)
DE Kingston Fernandez Kapolei (Hawaii) HS
WR Calvin Green Burbank HS (Sacramento)
CB Kevin Griffin De La Salle HS (Concord, Calif.
CB Sulaiman Hameed Alameda (Calif.) HS
DE Dylan Hanser Catholic HS (Billings, Mont.)
RB Keith Harrington Northeast HS (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
LB Greg Hoyd Vista Murrieta HS (Murrieta, Calif.)
OT Sean KrepszKing HS (Riverside, Calif.)
LB Frank Luvu Tafuna HS (Pago Pago, American Samoa)
DE Hercules Mata’afaLahainaluna HS (Lahaina, Hawaii)
CB Marcellus Pippins El Cerrito (Calif.) HS
CB Patrick Porter Bryant HS (Cottondale, Ala.)
S Markell Sanders Eastside Catholic HS
DT Ngalu Tapa Burbank HS (Sacramento)
CB Joseph Turner College of San Mateo (Calif.)
WR Barry Ware Centennial HS (Corona, Calif.)

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or

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