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Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Dalles-Wahtonka's James Atoe waiting for dominoes to fall in recruiting game

, November 19, 2009 8:52 p.m.

One of the state's biggest high school linemen is playing a waiting game as he weighs his college options.

James Atoe, a 6-foot-7, 323-pound senior at The Dalles-Wahtonka, has scholarship offers from Portland State and Weber State but is waiting to see if more are on the way, coach Andy Codding said.

"The other schools are waiting on two or three of the top kids," Codding said. "I think the offers will start to come in here pretty quick."

Atoe not only has prototypical size for a tackle but also has good athleticism. He was a Class 5A Intermountain Conference second-team selection in basketball last season, when he averaged 11.2 points.

Scout.com rates Atoe as the No. 92 tackle prospect in the country for his class. Rivals.com ranks him the state's 10th-best prospect overall for 2010.

"He's got great feet," said Codding, a former lineman at South Eugene who had a brief college career at Oregon. "He can move around a little bit. He anchors our line both ways. He forces teams to game plan a little differently when we put him in at nose guard."

So what's the knock on him? Codding said Atoe needs to improve his consistency and add lower-body strength so he can play with the proper pad level, something that can easily be fixed in college.

His potential has intrigued the Pacific-10 Conference schools in the Northwest.

"Oregon State just doesn't have any offensive line scholarships to offer this year," Codding said. "They want him to come down and gray shirt and include him in the following class. Oregon is interested, but they're just waiting on a couple of other kids. I believe they'll come around pretty quick.

"Washington State recently contacted me, so they're late to the game. Washington is very interested. They have a bunch of slots in this class for offensive linemen. He's on their list. I think he'll end up getting an offer from them pretty soon."

The Dalles-Wahtonka (8-2) visits No. 4 Thurston (8-1) in a Class 5A second-round playoff game Friday.

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