New Cougs have hit the ground running

PULLMAN – Cougar freshmen footballers are now two weeks into class at Washington State. They've got several skeleton practices under their belts -- plus roughly a dozen 6 a.m. workout sessions in the books. And as we found out, these rookies have some lofty goals. CF.C sat down for a roundtable discussion with a quartet of rookie Cougars to talk about all that and more.

If these four are any indication, CougFans need not worry about an incoming class chockfull of timid players -- these guys are confident.

When CF.C sat down with cornerback Daquawn Brown, quarterback Tyler Bruggman, running back Gerard Wicks and center Carlos Freeman, poise and conviction were in large supply.

Most said they aren't looking to experience the 'ol five-year plan -- instead they want to turn heads immediately.

"I feel every freshman should have high expectations for themselves," said Brown after playfully introducing himself as ‘Cheetah', a nickname he said intends to reestablish at the Pac-12 level. "You don't want to come in and have hopes of playing behind someone."

Wicks echoed that sentiment, one-upping his defensive counterpart with his own short-term aspirations.

"I, personally, want to win Pac-12 Freshman of the Year," Wicks said. "If I'm not the starting running back, I want to be number two behind Teondray (Caldwell)."

JUST TWO WEEKS into their college careers at Wazzu, each said they can see a noticeable difference in what a typical day on the gridiron requires. No longer will light high school lifting sessions suffice. And they said they were "kindly" introduced to strength and conditioning coach Jason Loscalzo who immediately put them to work.

"The first week here mentally, man, it was grueling," Freeman said.

"Waking up at 4:30a.m… being here by 5:30… and that's just to be on the safe side," said Wicks regarding the voluntary 6 a.m. daily workouts.

BUT THE LIFTING sessions are already paying dividends. The new workout routine and dietary regimen has paid off, they said, with most reporting significant gains in the little time they've spent in Pullman.

Both Wicks and Freeman have gained five pounds since arriving. Wicks now weighs in at 205, while Freeman is "in the 3's."

Bruggman said he's also gained about four pounds, while Brown weighs in at 172, two pounds heavier than when he arrived.

ANY INCREASED MUSCLE mass is always a plus for a freshman, as each will face off against far bigger, better and faster competition than they've seen coming up the high school ranks.

"I can tell from working with the (offseason drills) this game is going to be a lot quicker, especially being a center," Freeman said. "It's always a challenge and that's what we're here for."

Off the field, the four are taking two or three classes each and when you add in the football paces, they said to a man they've found just about zero downtime to experience the joys Pullman has to offer.

No Snake River sojourns? Not even a Cougar Country Drive-In burger? Nope, though most said those are both on the checklist for next week.

One would imagine those and other hidden treasures out on the Palouse will make those 6 a.m. workouts that much more worthwhile.

SPEAKING OF FOOD, it sounded as though Brown lives at Carlita's Mexican Grill in the CUB.

Bruggman, meanwhile, prefers Sella's.

And Freeman sounds as though he enjoys just about anything.

Freeman, from Oklahoma, said he's quite the cook -- and his teammates agree. Brown went so far as to tab Freeman as his choice for the team chef.

"We've done Pasta Alfredo a few times, we've done noodles a billion times really," said Freeman. "We've done barbeque and I've been trying to get some seafood in there but nobody wants to yet. Burgers, hotdogs, a lot of meats."

WITH ONE COLLEGE EXAM already in the books, an exam most felt they did well on, the four student-athletes said their transitions to college life at Washington State have gone nicely. As little free time as they have, it's still an advantage to start off on a more laid-back note in summer school.

Fall camp starts up the first week of August, (official dates yet to be released) and Cougar fans, the rookies said, can expect each and every one of them to be firmly entrenched in position battles.

"Expect big changes," Freeman said.

Wicks took it one step further.

"Expect the early 2000's, Cougs," Wicks said. "We're here. Go Cougs."

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