WSU baseball link leads LB to walk on

COMING FROM Bellevue High, you can understand why the newest Cougar walk-on has big-time expectations for himself and his new team headed forward. The Wolverines won state titles every year he was in the program, capping off five consecutive titles in 2012 -- a state record. But it was a baseball diamond connection that helped lead him to the Cougs.

Nathan DeRider (6-1, 185) will be headed to Washington State later this summer.

"The whole process really happened in three weeks," DeRider said. "I told Coach Russell how interested I was and he liked me. I guess I left quite a good impression."

DeRider is a versatile athlete who can play both sides of the ball. An accomplished tight end and a punishing linebacker, DeRider will come to Washington State as a preferred walk-on with something to prove.

"I get to pursue my dreams of playing ball at the next level," DeRider said. "I'm looking to put on as much weight, good weight that is, as I can this offseason to become as great as I can for fall ball."

DeRider comes from one of the most established football programs in the entire country. In his four years on the varsity squad, the Wolverines went 53-3, won the aforementioned four state titles, and finished 2012 as the sixth ranked team in the nation.

When DeRider arrives in Pullman, he believes he can have an immediate impact playing the game he loves.

"I love hitting people," DeRider said. "I definitely see myself playing linebacker. My high school coach thinks I can play safety. We'll just have to wait and see what happens with my body."

DeRider is no rookie to the rolling hills of the Palouse. While both of his parents attended WSU, he said one of his cousins was the real reason that he's made the trip across the state on so many occasions.

"Yeah, Derek Jones is my cousin," said DeRider of Jones, the all-time leader in home runs at Washington State. "We came over to watch him play a whole bunch. I fell in love with the place -- everything about it."

DeRider said in time he hopes to earn a scholarship and eventually win-over a starting job with the team. For now, the enthusiastic linebacker is plenty content learning the college game and ‘getting to know the guys.'

Accolades and recognition came with the wins for DeRider as he was named first-team All-League as a tight end his senior year, and second-team All-League as a linebacker his junior year. DeRider led the Wolverines in tackles in 2012 and is regarded as a ‘hard-nosed, tough and productive' playmaker by Northwest Recruiting Analyst Chris Fetters.

Holding offers from San Diego, Montana, and the University of Puget Sound, DeRider said he chose the Cougs and the chance to play D-1 football because it was ‘an opportunity he just couldn't pass up.'

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