SPRING PRIMER: Linebackers

THE ARGUMENT that WSU's linebackers will become a 2011 team strength isn't hard to make. A pair of sophomores who turned in impressive frosh debuts in '10? Check. Senior leadership? That's affirm. Depth? Yep, even some depth can be seen this spring. Heightened competition? Certainly. A true freshman who could make an impact? You bet. Plus a new linebackers coach with a sterling reputation? Indeed.

There's a lot to like about the linebacking corps this spring.

C.J. Mizell at MIK and Sekope Kaufusi at the SAM position gave fans plenty of reasons for optimism last year, both freshmen had strong impacts. Looking at the depth chart, they make up two-thirds of the starting linebacker corps this spring.

And backing up Mizell is senior Mike Ledgerwood, who has gotten better and better each year.

Over at WIL, it should be one of the fiercest position battles of the spring, with Alex Hoffman Ellis, Louis Bland and promising third-year sophomore Darren Markle scrapping it out.

Hoffman-Ellis has 21 career starts, while Bland has 14.

And WSU has some depth who will compete for turns as well in Eric Oertel and Tyrone Duckett.

Plus, there's a freshman who arrived early in January creating a buzz, too, in Darryl Monroe. The 6-1, 215-pounder isn't in WSU's two-deeps to begin the spring. But neither was Kaufusi or Mizell before they took the field last spring and fall camp, respectively.

The Cougs should be a speedy bunch. They should be a year smarter as well, less prone to over pursuing and better tacklers.

Kaufusi will not be at every practice, he'll miss some time to concentrate on his academics. That should allow Oertel and Duckett some extra turns to show how far they've progressed.

Washington State also has new linebackers coach Chris Tormey and his sparkling résumé in the fold this season.

And how fast the Cougs assimilate his instruction will be key to the success of the defense this spring and on into fall camp and the season.

Washington State returns to the field for their fourth practice of the 15-practice session on Tuesday.

Cougfan Top Stories