Who is No. 3 QB for Cougs?

PULLMAN – Surely, the WSU starting quarterback job seems likely to be claimed by redshirt junior Connor Halliday or redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca. And Halliday's the pre-spring favorite. But with the departure of Jeff Tuel, David Gilbertson and Cody Clements, is the position as thin as it appears? What if injuries befall the Cougs in 2013, who then will embrace the starting reins? Who is No. 3?

Indeed, the Cougs are rail-thin at the quarterback position for 2013. Oh, the spot is chock full of promise and potential -- but with such a green crop of signal callers, inexperience is the watchword.

Behind Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca this spring, it's slim-pickens for a team generally deep at the quarterback position. According to a source, redshirt sophomore Jesse Brown will be the third-string quarterback entering spring ball.

Brown is a walk on and wasn't recruited by head man Mike Leach. This isn't to say Brown isn't a perfectly capable quarterback, rather that it simply will be an uphill battle to convince the coaching staff his play warrants him slinging the pigskin over a scholarship player -- one who is more of a known quantity.

Brown was an accomplished prep quarterback. He threw for over 3,300 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior in a multi-faceted offense coming out of Baker City, Ore. He also rushed for twelve scores, and mobility in the Air Raid is never a bad thing.

A more telling statistic, Brown completed almost 69 percent of his passes as a senior at Baker High. For Leach, efficient offensive production is at the forefront of his offensive philosophy. If Brown can develop his understanding of the Air Raid system to a high enough degree, there's no reason to think he couldn't execute if called upon.

ANOTHER WALK ON, Spokane's Conner Johnson, could also be a factor this spring and on into the fall. But Johnson spent last year filling in on the scout team at a variety of positions other than quarterback.

Johnson will remain with the team, he said, contrary to the cyberspace rumor mill. Johnson mostly played linebacker, running back and h-back last season with the scout team, and never saw any game time. It appears as though his position entering 2013 remains in question, but his allegiance does not.

"No, I'm not transferring," Johnson said. "I'm a Coug man through and through."

ASSUMING IT IS Brown at the No. 3 this season, he would certainly have a head-start on incoming freshmen Tyler Bruggman and Isaac Dotson, who won't even be able to view the playbook due to NCAA regulations until June when they are expected to arrive on campus.

Bruggman, while open-minded in his expectations for his freshman year, said he hopes to learn and grow regardless. If the coaches think it best for him to redshirt, he says he's certainly on board with that.

"I plan put in the time and learn the offense," Bruggman said. "I want to be the best that I can be."

But what if he doesn't redshirt? Bruggman may be expected to come in and battle for playing time immediately. As the school's highest-rated quarterback recruit in nearly a decade, and with what Leach is calling a wide-open quarterback competition at-hand, Bruggman could force himself onto the two-deeps come fall camp.

"It's going to be a battle to get on the field, as it is at any school," he said. "I talked to Jeff (Tuel) a bit. He told me to come in and be an immediate leader."

LET'S ALSO NOT forget about Dotson out of Bellevue's Newport High.

A bundle of energy, Dotson doesn't know what position he will be auditioning for entering fall camp, but says he has been assured by Leach he will get his shot at the quarterback position.

He certainly has all the confidence and swagger you want from your starting quarterback.

"I think I could start from the get-go," Dotson said unapologetically this week to CF.C.

Indeed, with as little clarity as there is at WSU's quarterback position pre-spring, Dotson (6-3, 210) could put himself into the mix if he turns heads in fall camp. The Newport High product offers a wide array of skills on the field, including a strong arm and Bugs Bunny legs when running with the football. His playmaking ability could set him apart from the crowd, though he will have to prove he can proficiently throw the football and lead an offense at the Pac-12 level.

IF NOTHING CHANGES, from a betting man's perspective, Brown looks to be the odds-on favorite to grasp the role of the third-string quarterback for this Cougs this fall.

Leach will play any freshman if he's in the two-deeps, but redshirting obviously has its benefits. Bruggman will likely push for playing time, though the coaching staff may be reluctant to chuck him onto the field if Halliday and Apodaca show to be capable leaders. Dotson on the other hand, he could be the wildcard here for 2013.

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