Volero sizes up Coug OLBs & Florida talent

PULLMAN – Washington State outside linebackers coach Paul Volero says two gifted BUCKs and their offseason of hard work have him anticipating a "beautiful thing" at the position this fall. And neither of the players is named Logan Mayes. Meanwhile, he shares some insights on the unprecedented recruiting inroads WSU is making in his home state of Florida.

August's fall camp will determine who will start at BUCK for the Cougs. With Mayes, who split time last year between BUCK and defensive end, appearing slotted for DE this season, Kache Palacio and Ivan McLennan came out of spring ball as the ones to beat at BUCK.

"I firmly believe in this league you need two of every position to be competitive," Volero said in a recent interview with Cougfan.com. "Both guys, Kache and Ivan, they both offer something different. When they both settle in, it's going to be a beautiful thing to watch."

Palacio is a 6-2, 220-pound true sophomore from Gardena, Calif., and McLennan is a 6-4, 238-pound JC transfer from Hawthorne, Calif.

"Palacio has that tenacity that we need in this system," Volero said. "McLennan is a bigger body, but is still learning to bring it on every single down. It's not for a lack of effort, he's just having to think about where he should be and everything. It'll come."

AS FOR RECRUITING IN Florida, the Cougs have extended 13 known scholarship offers in this cycle to Sunshine State athletes, and two have pledged verbally to WSU: quarterback Peyton Bender of Fort Lauderdale and multi-dimensional Keith Harrington of St. Petersburg.

That means one-third of the Cougs' 2014 verbals so far are from Florida. Of the other four, three are from California and one from Washington.

Recruiting in Florida has to be very precise for Washington State, Volero said, because of the distance.

A scatter-shot approach would be a waste of time.

"The player has to be an absolute perfect fit," he said. Besides talent, they've got to have excellent grades, be OK with moving away, "and most importantly, they have to want to be Cougs."

Finding Cougs in this tropical peninsula where the SEC and ACC rule the airwaves is no easy task.

In fact, quite a few Florida prospects who receive offers from Washington State don't initially meet the aforementioned three criteria Volero talked about.

"A lot of the times, the students will be two out of three on the checklist," said Volero, who coached high school ball in Florida for 11 years. "But bringing them to Pullman, letting them see what Washington State is all about, then the third, wanting to be a Coug, well that falls right into place."

Volero said the most difficult aspect of recruiting in Florida is fighting off 48 other schools, whereas recruiting the Northwest and California often means battling only other West Coast institutions.

THE FIRST FLORIDIAN TO SIGN with WSU in the Leach Era was Feddie Davey, who will be a second-year freshman this fall and someone Volero says to keep an eye on at the SAM linebacker spot.

"He's a big strong kid and he'll have no problem with playing the run or picking up blitz packages this fall," Volero said.

"Cyrus (Coen) and Eric (Oertel) are both still working on little things," Volero said. "If Davey can come in and prove to be the whole package, watch out."

Coen is aiming to improve against the run and in the blitz, while Oertel is working on proper positioning and technique on run plays.

Davey's strength, coupled with his experience in coverage as a prep safety, conceivably gives him the chance to make waves during fall camp.

Now fully healed from his freshman knee injury, expect to see Davey getting run with the 1s and 2s when camp opens in August.

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