Some local surprises among WSU's walk ons

THE LIST OF preferred walk ons turning out for football at Washington State this week included a few surprises. Chief among them: Chandler Jenkins, the reigning KingCo 3A Offensive Player of the Year, who signed a letter of intent with the Air Force Academy in February.

CF.C is aiming to get the story behind Jenkins' change in flight path, but one thing appears certain: The Falcons' loss is the Cougars' gain.

The 5-10, 174-pound Jenkins is an uber-athletic throwback. He starred in three sports at Liberty High in Renton and played four positions in football -- receiver, running back, cornerback and return specialist.

He put himself on WSU's radar a year ago with outstanding work at Jason Gesser's Elite Skills clinic.

Last fall he piled up more than 2,500 all-purpose yards (1,795 rushing, 439 receiving, and 286 on kickoff returns). That came on top of 1,345 rushing and 762 receiving yards as a junior, when he helped lead Liberty to the state 3A championship game against Bellevue.

Air Force envisioned Jenkins playing slot receiver, but the Cougars have him penned at running back.

Jenkins is not the only standout KingCo running back whose name caught us by surprise on the WSU roster this week. So did 5-11, 185-pound Kyle Lappano, a two-time first-team all-KingCo 4A pick from Eastlake High in Sammamish. Lappano rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons.

He comes by his talent naturally. His dad Tim was a record-setting back at Gonzaga Prep before going on to stellar career at Idaho. Tim, who now the tight ends coach for the Detroit Lions, is a former assistant coach at WSU (1987-91), Cal, Oregon State and UW.

Another local standout we weren't expecting to walk on is 5-9, 157-pound cornerback Coleman Bryant of Lynnwood. This two-way standout earned first-team all-WesCo 3A three honors for his work at receiver last season after averaging 20.9 yards per catch. He also is the reigning Wesco 3A 100 meter champion, clocking in at 11.66 seconds this spring.

He's been timed in the 40 at 4.45. You can catch a video glimpse of Bryant's wheels here:

The walk on perhaps drawing the biggest head turn is 6-0, 200-pound safety Mitch Peterson, a 2010 WSU baseball signee out of West Valley High in Spokane. "Last fall I was at WSU going through baseball workouts but my heart was telling me it was football season. Just before winter break I talked with one of the coaches who said I could try out during spring ball and see how it went," Peterson said, a second-year freshman. "I made it and here I am."

At West Valley he earned all-league honors at receiver and defensive back, and All-State plaudits at DB. But that doesn't tell the half of it. He also returned kicks, played a bit at linebacker and running back, and was the backup quarterback.

His dad is Mike Peterson, a Cougar receiver in the Jim Walden era best known for his TD catch in the fabled 1982 Apple Cup.

AMONG THE IN-STATE walk ons CF.C was expecting, and who did indeed land in Pullman, are safety C.J. Langlow of Curtis High; lineman Gunnar Eklund of Lake Stevens; kicker Tyler McNannay of Colfax; defensive end Eddie Releford of Lakes; defensive back Jordan Simone of Skyline; and lineman Sam Shirley of Juanita.

Langlow, a first-team all-South Puget Sound League pick at receiver and defensive back, was one of the stars of the 3A/4A East-West All-Star Classic last month, picking off two passes in the span of 28 seconds. Eklund, the MVP of the East-West Classic, was named first team WesCo 4A North on both the offensive and defensive lines in 2010 as well as all-area first-team offense and second-team defense by the Everett Herald. McNannay last season was named first-team Associated Press Class 2B All-State at three positions: running back, kicker and punter.

Releford was named co-defensive lineman of the year in the SPSL 3A, and first team all-state by the Associated Press and Simone, the brother of WSU receiver Gino, was the Defensive Player of the Year in the KingCo 4A Crest Division last season, as well as first-team all-league on both offense and defense, and first-team Associated Press All-State at DB. Shirley, who checks in at 6-3, 297, was a second- team offense in KingCo 3A/2A pick last season.

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