A few years ago, he was plugging away in ticket sales for the Arena League Portland Forest Dragons. Now Brian Simpson is in his third season as director of group sales with the NHL Washington Capitals, who do nearly $2 million in group ticket sales annually.

'It has been a really good gig,' says Simpson, 29, an Oregon City native and Linfield grad. 'A great learning experience. And living back here has been a lot different than living in Portland.'

Simpson's boss until recently, ironically, was Declan Bolger, who is now chief marketing officer for the Trail Blazers.

• Draft Insiders' Digest ranks two Oregon State players among the top 50 prospects for the April 24-25 NFL draft: tailback Steven Jackson at No. 18 and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards at No. 42. Jackson is the second-rated running back behind Virginia Tech's Kevin Jones at No. 14.

• Catch the fascinating story of boxer Johnny Tapia, ably crafted by Portland author and Tribune contributor Katherine Dunn, in the February issue of É Playboy. But please, don't look at the pictures.

• Baseball America magazine ranks shortstop Khalil Greene, who spent most of last season with the Portland Beavers, as the No. 2 prospect in the San Diego Padres' organization. The 5-11, 210-pound Greene, 24, spent last September playing nearly every day for the Padres and is listed as the starter on the team's depth chart entering spring training.

• Football recruiting is heating up.

Oregon State football coach Mike Riley has a verbal commitment from Isaiah Cook, a 6-3, 195-pound outside linebacker ranked 15th nationally by Cook, who originally committed to Kansas State, is the third nationally ranked linebacker to give OSU the nod. Others are Alan Darlin of Elk Grove, Calif. (20th inside linebacker), and Wallace Bates of Woodland Hills, Calif. (37th outside linebacker).

The latest news brings the Beavers' commitment list to 19 players. They also have a good shot at several other highly rated prospects, including defensive tackle Pernell Booth of Billings, Mont.; wide receiver Marty Tadman of Mission Viejo, Calif., the MVP of the Florida-California All-Star Game; tailback J.T. Diedericks of Ballard, Wash., who has committed to Washington State but will make a recruiting visit to Corvallis; tailback Arian Foster of San Diego; and safety Lamar Herron, who has committed to USC but is expected to visit the OSU campus.

Oregon, meanwhile, has received a commitment from the kind of game-breaking tailback it was looking for in Terrell Jackson, a 5-9, 190-pound player from Corona, Calif. The Ducks also have continued their winning ways at national power De Le Salle High in Concord, Calif., with commitments from cornerback Willie Glasper, 5-10, 190, and safety Terrance Kelly, 5-11, 210.

• According to KFXX (910 AM), it scooped the rest of the Portland media, including Trail Blazer flagship KXL (750 AM), in announcing Wednesday's trade. How could Paul Allen's people let that happen?

Contact Kerry Eggers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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