Key to rise of WSU's Myers found in mindset

PULLMAN -- In late July, players from WSU were given two weeks off to relax and spend time with family and friends. For one Cougar receiver, that time wasn't used to travel or spend countless hours playing video games like a regular 19-year-old. Instead, Isiah Myers was out on the gridiron, working to become the wideout with the steadiest hands and focusing on one thing in particular:

Being physical.

"It wasn't a change in work ethic for me, it was more of a mindset change," Myers said. "I was talking to family back home and they told me to work hard and earn it."

Myers' stepdad, Lo Wood Sr., is a local athletic trainer in the Orlando area and with Myers having a short break, he put together a hometown gathering in July -- two weeks of speed training and agility workouts. Myers and several other area athletes, including defensive backs Ha' Sean Clinton-Dix (Alabama) and Roderick Ryles (Pitt), were in attendance. (The duo prepped at Dr. Phillips High, the same school that produced the Cougs' Darryl Monroe.)

The 6-0, 176 pound Myers went head to head against both countless times during his short return to Florida, helping him become more physical and more adept at fighting off the bigger DBs. Clinton-Dix is listed at 6-1, 209 pounds, while Ryles is 6-1, 200 pounds.

"We had those couple of weeks to hang out at home, but it wasn't really hanging out for me," Myers said. "We had some good competition going out there. I grew up with some of Darryl Monroe's teammates and they were 5-star recruit type players. We always come back and work out together and its really helped me out.

"Working hard in the offseason is always going to make a difference."

INDEED, MYERS PLAYED physically against Cal, something that wasn't the case his true freshman season. Several of his plays don't show up in the box score -- key blocks downfield and drawing a pass interference call on fourth-and-10 in the third quarter included. On that play, he claimed inside position and forced the contact that drew the flag. It extended the Cougars' drive that ended in an 8-yard TD pass from Jeff Tuel to freshman receiver Brett Bartolone.

"When Isiah Myers is tuned in, he really plays well," Mike Leach said. "I think he did some good things tonight and he was our most explosive receiver out there tonight."

Tuel said it's those kinds of plays from Myers that make a difference.

"His confidence has changed this season," Tuel said. "He runs his routes like he knows they are going to work this year. He sets people up to do things and he's a really smart football player and I think he's learning. Not all of the receivers are doing that. Some guys will run the same route every time, but Isiah mixes things up and tries to disguise what he's doing out there."

MYERS ARRIVED AT Washington State in January of 2011, graduating early from Olympia High in Orlando with teammate and fellow receiver Henry Eaddy and Monroe, WSU's starting MIK linebacker. As a true freshman, he backed up WR Jared Karstetter and at the end of that season, he knew he could be the go-to guy to take over his spot.

In 2011, Myers had seven catches for 76 yards. He nearly matched those totals by the time his first game of 2012 was in the books at BYU (5 rec., 50 yards).

WHEN WIDEOUT Marquess Wilson went down in the second quarter against Cal with an unknown injury Saturday night against California, the Cougars needed someone to step up, someone to help keep the spirits high and be an aerial threat for QB Jeff Tuel to rely on. Enter Myers.

Myers, who has ascended to a starting job in his second season at WSU, is the Cougs' second leading receiver behind Wilson. He has 37 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns on the season and had a career night against Cal, hauling in eight catches for 108 yards to lead the Cougs.

"Isiah played really well," Tuel said. "He can be just as potent as Marquess if he wants to be. He's got a crazy amount of talent with huge upside."

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