PULLMAN -- Washington State football fans might begin to run out of superlatives to describe wide receiver Marquess Wilson. The sophomore continued to show his explosiveness during the first set of two-a-days Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, another area emerged as a concern as the majority of players donned shoulder pads and split into position groups.

The practice session, which began with special-teams drills, did little to breed confidence in a kicking game that seemingly has struggled since Drew Dunning graduated in 2003. Sophomore Andrew Furney, and true freshman Tyler McNanny combined to go 3-of-8 from their attempts from around 35 to 40 yards. Furney was 2-of-4, while McNanny was just 1-of-4.

Following the field-goal tries, the focus moved to kick returns, where Furney handled the place-kicking duties. Wide receiver Dominique Williams and running back Leon Brooks handled the kick returning duties as well.

The punting session, where the Cougars must replace standout Reid Forrest, went better. Senior Dan Wagner consistently had 45- to 50-yard punts. Tyler McNanny also got in some reps with the 2s, but he shanked several punts and could not get into any type of rhythm.

THE COUGARS SCRIMMAGED during the afternoon, where both the offense and defense both had their moments. Offensively, it all started with Wilson. For the offense, the player of the day award belonged to Wilson. His first big reception came when Tuel rolled to his left and fired up a deep ball. Despite tight coverage from sophomore cornerback Nolan Washington, Wilson was able to make an acrobatic catch. The play ended Washington's practice as he appeared to suffer an ankle injury. He was able to walk off the field without assistance.

He was replaced by junior Daniel Simmons, who did not fare much better. Two plays after entering, Simmons made a diving pass deflection on a ball thrown to Wilson. But Wilson did not lose focus and after the ball was tipped at least twice, he made a diving catch for a touchdown.

"It was just concentration," Wilson said. "He made a nice play on the ball for the defense and I was able to find the ball in the air and come down with it."

The defense continued their strong play in the afternoon session however, and weakside linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis expressed his excitement about the defense's development. The senior said it was the unit's best two-a-day practice at WSU.

"Our energy was there and the tempo was really crisp," he said.

HOFFMAN-ELLIS, a senior, played in 2007 at California's Moorpark College, has started the last two seasons after redshirting in '08. Coach Paul Wulff has called him one of the leaders of the defense. Hoffman-Ellis said he is excited for the season to begin.

"I don't want to necessarily say it was worth the wait because nobody would really like what we've gone through over the last three seasons," Hoffman-Ellis said. "I can definitely say I'm excited for the season, I'm anxious and I'm tired of the wait for the season. I Wish I could start now."

There were plenty of guys who missed the afternoon practice, including middle linebacker C.J. Mizell and running back Carl Winston, but Wulff explained it's not injury or discipline related, rather just sticking to the schedule.

"We have about six or seven guys who are one day behind the acclimation period so they couldn't do a two-a-day yet," Wulff said. "Today was their last day of getting their fifth practice in this morning, then they'll all be coming back tomorrow."

  • Sophomore walk-on wide receiver Bennett Bontemps had an incredible catch midway through practice. While running with the 2s, QB Marshall Lobbestael threw the ball over the middle and Bontemps laid out full extension and caught the ball when it was no more than 10 inches off the ground. Bontemps continues to work hard throughout practices, and could be a key member of the Cougars' special teams, as well.

  • The Gunners running during punt drills were Deone Bucannon, Kyle McCartney, Damante Horton and Bontemps.

    Running with the 1's:


    QB: Jeff Tuel

    X receiver: Marquess Wilson

    Flanker: Isiah Barton

    Z receiver: Jared Karstetter

    (note: TE Andrei Lintz, and WR Henry Eaddy also saw frequent action with the No. 1 offense).

    LT: David Gonzales

    LG: John Fullington

    C: Andrew Roxas

    RG: B.J. Guerra

    RT: Wade Jacobson

    RB: Logwone Mitz (Rickey Galvin also saw substantial action)


    LE: Travis Long

    LT: Toni Pole

    RT: Anthony Laurenzi

    RE: Adam Coerper

    SAM: Sekope Kaufusi

    MIKE: Mike Ledgerwood

    WILL: Alex Hoffman-Ellis

    LCB: Nolan Washington (replaced by Daniel Simmons following injury)

    SS: Deone Bucannon

    FS: Tyree Toomer

    CB: Damante Horton


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