KENNEWICK -- Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday, who came on strong late in the 2011 season before going down with a lacerated liver injury, is progressing nicely in his recovery. WSU's new director of football operations, asked Friday about the sophomore-to-be, shied from going into detail but offered clues to Halliday's outlook for spring ball, which starts March 22.
Antonio Huffman, in Kennewick with Mike Leach and the rest of the Cougar coaching staff for A Night with Cougar Football event, said Halliday currently is working out on a limited basis and will be good to go soon.
Huffman also said the Cougars' recently started winter conditioning program, called "Midnight Maneuvers," has a notable focus on agility and change-of-direction drills. The name of the program stems from the 10 p.m. start time. Most teams conduct their winter workouts at 5 or 6 a.m., but the Cougs are doing theirs at night because Leach reasons they play many games in the evening and none in the morning. It's a routine he brings with him from Texas Tech.
Other nuggets from Huffman:
New quarterback recruit Austin Apodaca, from Silver Creek High in Longmont, Colo., is a very smart player who makes good decisions at the line of scrimmage -- something that has been a requisite skill of every QB that has succeeded under Leach.
There are a handful of players in the new recruiting class who have some academic hurdles to clear before getting to WSU but the staff is confident all will make it.
The new coaching staff did yeoman-like work on the recruiting trail, especially given the compressed schedule in which they had to work. "They put a heck of a recruiting class together. It was a tough battle – other schools had been on these players for more than a year."
Cougar players involved in the tutoring and study hall program have been diligent in their work. They're showing up on time and staying focused, he said. Under the program, players convene for two-and-a-half hours four nights a week.
In other notable Cougar news ...
The annual Crimson & Gray spring football game will be held April 21 in Spokane. But that won't be the final workout of the spring. The team will have one more practice after that, on April 24. Spring practices commence on March 22. It is unclear if the practices will be closed. Regular-season practices definitely will be closed to reporters and the public -- a long-standing Leach tradition.
WSU recruiting coordinator and chief of staff Dave Emerick says new offensive line recruit B.J. Salmonson of Class 1A Nooksack Valley will still be enrolling at WSU this fall even though he is grayshirting. Taking a part-time class load will maintain the grayshirt. The clock on his eligibility then won't start until he enrolls on a full-time basis in Janaury. The grayshirt plan for Salmonson was set up initially by Paul Wulff's staff, Emerick said.