The 10 Best players on 2013 Cougars: No. 7

TRUE FRESHMEN WHO start their first year in college are rare, and those who lead their position statistically are rarer still. The No. 7 pick on our list of the best 2013 Cougs also has something else in his back pocket, something that Mike Leach praised on several occasions this past season…

It began as a request from, asking CF.C for a list of the 10 best Cougar football players for 2013. We solicited subscribers, readers and twitter followers, put it all into our crystal ball and then had our editors come up with the list. Today, we reveal the seventh member of the list...

7. Brett Bartolone

When it comes to attitude and toughness, Brett Bartolone (5-10, 187) has what Leach wants.

After Washington State's 31-17 loss to Cal last year, a game in which WSU squandered multiple chances, a number of Cougs were hanging their heads. Many of them didn't wait until after the game to slump their shoulders, they started early.

For Leach, seeing that was like having someone rub sandpaper across his face.

But Bartolone was the antithesis of that attitude, and both during and after the game.

After the loss put the Cougs at a soul-searching 2-5 on the year, Bartolone not only remained resilient, he continued to bubble positivity when facing reporters' questions.

"I love that kid to death," senior QB Jeff Tuel said of Bartolone after Cal. "He's a competitor who wants to win and he wants to score every time. He's one of the hardest workers on this team."

AS THE "H" slot receiver in the Air Raid, Bartolone plays the "Wes Welker/Danny Amendola" role.

In short yardage situations, Bartolone is the go-to guy with the quickness and lateral agility to out maneuver linebackers.

And the position can become that much greater in importance when he has nickel-backs, who tend to be a hair slower than others in the secondary, matched up on him in certain defensive sets.

Bartolone was very good as a true freshman in that "H" role. Despite a (brief) case of the drops later in the season, he led the Cougs with 53 catches in 2012. How many true freshmen receivers do you see lead a team in receptions?

Bartolone assumed the starting role in Week 4, and finished with 435 yards and four touchdowns.

He also got some limited experience in on punt and kickoff returns last season, and he might well emerge as the holder for Andrew Furney after fall camp gets underway.

SHOULD HIS special teams role(s) increase in addition to his day job for the 2013 season, it's a safe bet that he'll be working his tail off at it while buoying those around him.

But most importantly – and from a big picture perspective on what kind of career Bartolone could have at WSU as a receiver – Leach probably summed it best when talking about Bartolone late last season.

"He's certainly ahead of his time for a freshman," said Leach.

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