Cougs' QB depth in fall offers intrigue

PULLMAN – What a difference a summer will make. The next time Washington State hits the practice field, there will be as many as seven quarterbacks in uniform. That's up from three during the just-concluded spring season. And it points to a battle not just between Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca for No. 1, but between Jesse Brown and a quartet of expected newcomers for the No. 3 role, too.

"Well, Jesse Brown is the third guy right now," Leach said Thursday in his final media conference call of the spring. "We're bringing in a lot of guys this summer and we'll just see how it plays out. They'll fight for time."

Chief among them are touted four-star recruit Tyler Bruggman of Phoenix, and multi-dimensional athlete Isaac Dotson of Bellevue.

"Well you'd always like to redshirt the freshmen," Leach said. "In the past we've needed to play some of the younger kids but we really needed the bodies. Ideally you'd like to give the kids a year to grow."

Bruggman was rated among the top 25 quarterbacks in the nation in the 2013 recruiting cycle, while Dotson was a dual threat all-league QB at Newport High. Dotson also starred on defense and easily projects as a safety or linebacker, but will be given a first look behind center.

They aren't the only two newcomers expected at quarterback.

Also believed heading to WSU this fall are walk ons Luke Falk and Domenic Rockey.

Falk, from Logan, Utah, passed for 3,618 yards and 36 TDs last season while setting state records for pass attempts (562) and completions (330). He had verbally committed to Cornell, but opted to walk on at WSU after Cornell's coach left for the Canadian Football League.

Rockey, from Mountainview High in Auburn, was first-team SPSL 3A last season after he completed 61.4 percent of his 247 passes for 1,454 yards and six TDs.

Conner Johnson, who walked on as a quarterback last fall and saw scout team duty at a variety of positions, looks now to be a full-time receiver.

AS FOR THE STARTING JOB AT QUARTERBACK, Leach said the race between Halliday and Apodaca is too close to call.

"At this point, I wouldn't say we have a number one or a number two," he said, noting that "I've never had a freshman come in a play as well as Austin did."

Halliday will be a fourth-year junior this season and Apodaca a second-year freshman.

"Connor probably played a little bit better (this spring), but Austin had never run with the 1's or the 2's," Leach said.


  • Receiver Mansel Simmons, who medically retired this week due to the injuries he sustained in a fight earlier this spring with some University of Idaho football players, will stay on scholarship, Leach said. He will not count against the school's 85-man scholarship limit.

  • Leach said he expects 2012 offensive line starters John Fullington, who mostly ran with the second unit this spring, and Jake Rodgers, who missed the spring with injury, to push for starting spots this fall.

  • The Cougs open the 2013 season at Auburn on August 31 and then follow it up with a road trip to USC on Sept. 9 before getting their first take of home cookin on Sept. 14 against Southern Utah.

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