Tormey has solid, deep group for '11

PULLMAN--Quality depth has been steadily building the past three classes at Washington State. And perhaps no defensive unit is more reflective of that progress than linebacker. First-year WSU linebackers coach Chris Tormey spoke with CF.C about his LB corps and gave us the scoop on the competition for playing time, including the exploits of an uber-versatile LB and a walk-on who is turning heads.

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The Cougars' only major loss at the LB position from last year was starting SAM backer Myron Beck (51 tackles, 1 interception). Tormey, however, sees plenty of balance in the cupboard. And talent.

"I think we're fortunate enough to have several very solid players in our program at the linebacker position right now," Tormey said.

Tormey gave CF.C the run down of his starting unit, talked about the ongoing battle between Mike Ledgerwood and C.J. Mizell at middle linebacker and more.

Tormey on WIL: "Alex Hoffman-Ellis is probably the one guy who has had the most experience and understands things the best," Tormey said. "He's a physical presence, a 400-pound bench presser who can run. He's smart, he's tough, and he's a good leader which is important to him. We're fortunate enough to have him playing well."

Tormey on SAM: "At the SAM, we've got Sekope Kaufusi who played a lot last year as a redshirt freshman and has all the skills -- I think he can be an oustanding outside linebacker for us."

Tormey on MIK: "At the MIK linebacker position we've really got two guys fighting for a starting position there with Mike Ledgerwood and C.J. Mizell. Both have their own skills," Tormey said.

"Mike has really developed I think and is looking towards a good senior year," Tormey said. "C.J. is really coming around so far in fall camp so we'll see how that race shakes out."

Editor's Note: Soon after CF.C talked with Tormey, Paul Wulff said the staff sat down and decided to start moving some players around based on their performance. One of those players was Mizell, who climbed to the top of the depth chart over Ledgerwood. See the CF.C story FALL CAMP, DAY 9 REPORT for more.

IT'S BEEN NOTED on CF.C and on different media outlets this fall, Mizell's attitude on the field has changed. Mizell has become a vocal leader for the Cougs and thus far is giving his full effort on each play in practice, something that was a major issue last year and into the spring.

Tormey has noticed the change.

"He's bought into the direction of the program and he's got an investment -- so anytime you have an investment, you want to make sure your investment comes through," Tormey said. "His effort is better, he's understanding concepts better and we all know he's an outstanding player so I'm excited to see if he can sustain it. And if he can, he's got a great chance to be a very special linebacker here at Washington State."

Running steadily with the 2s throughout fall camp has been WIL LB Darren Markle, MIK Mizell, and SAM Darryl Monroe. (As is customary throughout fall camp, players have been moved around to different positions).

Markle is the most versatile of the group and looks to be in prime position to become a significant defenseman for the Cougars this season.

"Darren is invaluable because he can play any of the three positions," Tormey said. "He's really a smart player, a physical player. He understands his assignments, he studies tape. And it's important to him."

THE 2011 RECRUITING CLASS is young and learning. But they've also showcased athleticism and physicality from the start. With the exception of Monroe, they group has seen the most of their action running with the 3s.But with seasoning and proper work ethic, Coug fans might well be looking at future starters and stars.

"We've got three new young guys, really four, with Chester Sua, Tana Pritchard, Logan Mayes and we've got a fourth who's walking on who's raised eyebrows through fall camp and that's Cyrus Coen, who we moved from safety to linebacker last week," Tormey said. "They all have their own individual skills and they're all good bright prospects, so it's good to have good depth down the road as we look to the future."

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