When Corey Dillon went to the sidelines with leg cramps in the second half of Saturday’s Apple Cup, perhaps some Washington State fans - defenders and coaches, for that matter - thought to themselves: “Whew. That’s the last time we’ll see him.”
There has been speculation that Washington’s record-setting running back might forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
UW coach Jim Lambright has some bad news for Cougars faithful.
“Corey’s going to be here, no doubt. He and I talked about it again last Friday before the Cougar game,” Lambright said at his Monday press conference. “Corey is going to be a Husky next year. He doesn’t have a doubt, nor do I.
“And we’ll do everthing we can to make sure a year from now we’re wondering about how many awards he’s going to win.”
Dillon ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns against WSU. His 22 TDs tied Marcus Allen and O.J. Simpson for the Pac-10 single-season record. Dillon was named to the All-Pac-10 first team on Monday.
With Dillon on the sidelines, Lambright pointed out some less publicized Huskies who played critical roles in Saturday’s 31-24 overtime win over WSU.
For example, Colin Beard, a fourth-team long-snapper pressed into service.
“He drove over (to Pullman), we didn’t even offer him a place on the plane,” Lambright said. “We had his equipment there, as we’ve done before with players that just show up.”
Stunningly, the top three long-snappers were injured. “He (Beard) came in and however you want to see that ball, it was the most perfectly snapped ball to the punter - because we have no other answers in the program at that point,” Lambright said.
Lambright also lauded the contributions of center Olin Kreutz and reserve running back Mike Reed. On one play, Kreutz picked up a blitzing linebacker to his right and a blitzing safety on his left, allowing quarterback Brock Huard time to throw, Lambright said.
Reed caught a 16-yard swing pass in overtime, setting up UW’s winning TD. Reed quit the team for a day in October, frustrated by his lack of playing time.
UW likely will play in the Holiday or Cotton Bowl. The Huskies appear Cotton Bowl-bound if BYU loses in the WAC title game Dec. 7.
“Last year’s bowl game (a 38-18 loss to Iowa in the Sun Bowl) will be good motivation for us in terms of how to get the team ready,” Lambright said. “We’re 9-2 right now (in large part) because of the opportunity to have 16 bowl practices with young players last year.
“The way we prepare for a bowl game is both to win the game and to be better next year.”
Huskies recruit pen pal
Toalei Mulitauaopele, a 6-foot-7, 325-pound defensive lineman, who served prison time after pleading guilty to two counts of manslaughter, is being recruited by the Huskies. He said he plans to accept a football scholarship from UW in the spring after he graduates from Walla Walla Community College.
Mulitauaopele, 21, a junior college All-American in 1995, who attended Seattle’s Cleveland High School, pleaded guilty in 1992 to manslaughter in the deaths of two Tacoma men and was sentenced to 54 months in prison. According to court testimony, he helped subdue the victims, but wasn’t present when they were killed.
Three others, including a man who admitted killing the Tacoma men, also were convicted.
He was released from prison in 1995 and enrolled at Walla Walla CC.
He told The Seattle Times Ohio State, Penn State, Oregon and Arizona also recruited him.
Shane Fortney, the No. 1 quarterback at the start of the season, was expected to have knee surgery Monday. Lambright hopes Fortney will be able to throw by this spring, then rehabilitate during the summer to “get his speed and confidence back in his legs … so he can compete with (Huard) for that job.”
Lambright on defensive end/linebacker Jason Chorak, one of five finalists for the Football News Defensive Player of the Year award: “With an off-season in the weightroom, it might be scary how good he can be with some weight and strength because he’s got the great heart and God-given foot speed.”
Given a chance to second-guess himself regarding Saturday’s fourth-quarter play-calling, Lambright said: “I probably would have been a little quicker to go to the pass when we knew Corey was out of the game. We could have gone to throwing the ball into Brock’s hands a little more.”
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Jim Meehan Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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