Coug RT Forbes making early spring statement

PULLMAN – Rico Forbes is smiling from ear to ear. It's Saturday and the Cougs have just wrapped up practice. Forbes (6-6, 304) at one stage was lined up against defensive end Matthew Bock and Lyman Faoliu. Forbes had the upper hand throughout the session, ably showing off his quickness. The result is a welcome reward given the adversity Forbes has faced the past two seasons.

Bock made five starts last year and Faoliu is a quick athlete himself, but Forbes didn't seem to struggle in keeping them away from quarterbacks Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca during the Cougs' fifth practice this spring.

As soon as practice was over and his helmet was off, Forbes couldn't stop smiling.

"I love being out here with them and it's a wonderful feeling being back and playing," Forbes said. "I wish I was out there with them during the season last year, but things happen. I'm happy to be with them now. I love what's going on with this team. Guys are maturing more and more and everyone is more accountable for what they're doing.

"The coaches preach that it's all about teamwork and how if one guys falls, we all fall. We've embraced that and gotten closer with each other. I'm excited about the future for us."

THE TIME IS now, and Forbes knows it. The fifth-year senior first arrived in Pullman in the spring of 2011. Two years later, after a redshirt season and a lost 2012 campaign, Forbes has yet to see the field on a Saturday, yet to have his first taste of Pac-12 competition.

Recruited by former coach Paul Wulff for the 2011 class, Forbes was expected to compete for immediate playing time. But so far, everything has gone the complete opposite of what was expected.

"You really have to learn to take things one day at a time," Forbes said. "It's been tough. When I first got here, I thought I was going to play, but the coaches thought it would be best if I redshirted. Then last season I thought I had a great spring and fall camp, but then I suffered my injury. It really hasn't been easy for me."

Forbes last year suffered a torn ACL early in fall camp during agility drills. He beat himself up over the misfortune for a few days, but that quickly turned to motivation.

He was tireless during his six-month rehab to get himself prepared for this year's spring drills. This included countless hours in the swimming pool, using different hydro workouts to help re strengthen the knee.

Forbes has certainly seen his hard work pay off. His knee is nearly back to 100 percent.

And he's seen virtually all his time this spring running with the starters at the right tackle spot.

FORBES HAS THE body-type Mike Leach looks for in a tackle. More importantly, he has the feet.

"It feels great to be able to be out here and help the team out," Forbes said. "I just need to continue to get back in shape and get my knee strong. I'm comfortable out on the field, but my main thing is working on being confident. So far I feel like I'm headed in the right direction."

Forbes has the potential to be the anchor for an offensive line unit that has certainly had its fair share of ups and downs last season under Leach and o-line coach Clay McGuire.

And it's clear McGuire wants to get him as many turns as possible this spring.

"You know, I've been pleasantly surprised with how Rico has played for us," McGuire said. "He's done a nice job, but he's nowhere near his potential. The thing that's going to help him is just getting in more reps.

"Hopefully he's hungry," Mcguire added. "He had high expectations coming in and he essentially had to sit for two years. He knows he has a long way to go but I think he's pretty hungry right now to get better and help this team. He has to potential to be a special player for us this season."

And if that ends up being the case for Forbes, the smiles are sure to follow.

Through the first five practices, the o-line starters have generally been left tackle Gunnar Eklund, left guard John Fullington, center Elliott Bosch, right guard Matt Goetz and Forbes at right tackle.

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