Wilson's State of the Union on the Coug LBs

WHEN KEN WILSON grabbed his whistle in 2013 for his first spring practice at Washington State, he says he had about five linebackers out on the field. A year later, he has many more quality players who can contribute both in the scheme and on special teams. We asked the Cougar assistant coach for a synopsis on those individuals.

Darryl Monroe: "Darryl's the leader of our defense right now…he has the athletic traits to be one of the better players in the conference if not the country if he continues to improve and push himself…Very happy with him on the field, off the field, he's matured a lot and has gotten bigger, he's working hard now on his flexibility and foot speed. I think he can be as good as is around if he continues to progress."

Tana Pritchard: "Tana was a huge surprise last year, he wasn't a humongous part of the game plan when the season started but ended up playing a lot of SAM and WIL for us…and averaged (a bunch) of tackles those last five games or so for us. Every week you see huge improvement, he understands the position better now… he was one of the hardest working guys out there in Midnight Maneuvers and in the spring and that's now showing out on the field."

Cyrus Coen: "Cyrus did well (in spring). Cyrus has all the ability, he's a fast kid, he's a strong kid, he wants to do well. We're working on consistency with Cyrus right now. What I've talked about with Cyrus is his great plays are really great, and his not great plays are really bad so we've got to even those out... we can't have his wild different levels of play because when he's good, he's really good… He came in here as a running back/safety so he's been on a learning curve and there's a lot asked of our SAM linebacker."

Chester Sua: "Chester is such a talented, talented guy. Being out for a while… there was some rust we had to knock off… and the scheme had changed since he was last out there. But as he picked it up in the last few practices and the spring game, he really showed as he learns he's really going to push – if not to start at the WIL than at least give Tana a heck of a run for his money at that position. I'm really happy with how he's progressed on and off the field."

Jeremiah Allison: "He backed up at four different positions last year to our benefit but probably to his detriment because he probably never had a chance to really get comfortable at any position. So when we went into spring we said you're going to play MIK and back up Darryl… and in the second half of spring he really came on. We know he can play WIL but we're really trying to get him in there at MIK, along with Peyton, and really give Darryl some competition there."

Paris Taylor: "Paris is probably 235 pounds now, he's big and fast and 100 percent off the knee injury that he had when he arrived here. As he learns the linebacker position, coming over from safety, I think his upside is humongous, not only in our (base) defense but in the nickel package and on special teams. He's a big, special athlete and we've got him for three years so I'm really looking forward to his progress. He had times where he looks a little bit lost because he hasn't been a linebacker but when he flashes, boy, he had a few tackles in the spring game and that's what they're supposed to look like when they make those plays."

Mitch Peterson: "Mitch has given us some really good playing time at the SAM position and has probably made the most improvement of anybody, him and Tana, as far as pushing to play. We have some guys there who are really going to battle at that spot."

Peyton Pelluer: "Peyton was healthy this spring, we were almost going to play him last year but he got a little banged up. We've put some muscle on him to where he can stand in there and play in the middle. He's a young guy so he's still got some learning to do as far as how hard you have to play and the effort you have to play with at all times. But he's a talented guy, from a football family. If he really puts his mind to it over the summer here and gets his body ready to go he can make a push for playing time there in the middle."

Dylan Hanser: "We anticipate playing him right now, we've got that (possible redshirt) in our back pocket but we anticipate him in our nickel package and on special teams. He's a big, fast, athletic guy. He's probably not ready to get in there and play a whole bunch in the defensive scheme today but we also have 29 more practices with him in the fall. But in special situations and on special teams I think he is going to be a big factor… he can pass rush, he's fast and cover a lot of ground. If he matures body-wise, he's going to play more and more."

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