Cougar Texan duo has both swagger and respect

PULLMAN -- Mike Leach has made it a point of emphasis in his short time at WSU to bring in Texas talent and a pair of WSU rookies -- freshmen safety Darius Lemora and CB/ATH Charleston White -- are two prime examples. The duo said they've fast fallen in love with all the charms the Palouse has to offer. But they're not here for scenery. It's all about football.

After making the near 1,600 mile trip from Amarillo to Pullman, White said WSU has already wholly changed his perspective.

"I've probably seen more trees driving through Pullman than I've seen in my whole life," he said. "Everything is so green. In Texas everything is flat and yellow."

Indeed, both White and Lemora also said the summer scenery out on the Palouse is a sight to behold. Lemora traveled even further than White did in coming to Wazzu. The drive from Port Arthur, located near both the Gulf of Mexico and the Louisiana border, is about 2,300 miles.

As far as football goes, both say they are busy adjusting to the speed, size and overall upgrade to Pac-12 football.

White (6-1, 170) arrived at Washington State in June as an "athlete." And he's all that and more after not just competing but excelling in three sports in high school.

White said Leach has given him the opportunity to play offense or defense, whichever position he feels most comfortable at. After taking into account the depth at wideout, and the inconsistencies in the defensive backfield, White said he'll try his hand at cornerback see how it goes.

Blessed with long arms and impressive leaping ability, White offers an intriguing mix out on the island.

White has played defensive back in most of the Cougs' voluntary workouts this summer, and said some of the Cougar receivers aren't making the transition any easier on the young defensive backs.

"Vince Mayle is the one the biggest guys I've ever went against," said White. "But going against guys like that isn't doing anything but making me better."

LEMORA AND WHITE added that fourth-year junior Kristoff Williams is also a bit of a chore on the practice field, noting the increased speed and big bodies are providing an instant education on the Pac-12 level of play.

"We're competing with them," Lemora opined. "A lot of the older guys are working us through it."

One of those "older guys" Lemora is referring to is a player Lemora has drawn comparisons to by CF.C -- senior safety Deone Bucannon.

Lemora said the idea of playing this season next to Bucannon at the strong safety position is incredibly exciting, but added he isn't taking anything for granted.

Having shaken his hand, Lemora (6-0, 185) is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He gives off the type of vibe the Cougs are aiming towards under Leach -- a gritty, hard-nosed football player looking to knock heads. Having been described by prep beat writers as ‘hard-hitting', well that comes as no surprise to me even though I have yet to see him put on the pads.

WITH SENIOR Casey Locker and sophomore Taylor Taliulu assumedly topping the strong safety depth chart opposite Bucannon headed into fall camp, (and both of whom are still improving in different aspects of the game,) it isn't unfathomable that Lemora competes for the starting gig in fall camp -- just like Bucannon did as a true freshman.

"Nothing's going to be given to me," Lemora said. "I'm going to have to work for that spot."

AS FAR AS short- and long-term expectations, the general theme seems to be Rose Bowl or bust for this incoming class. And the clear consensus out on the Palouse is that the program is on a definite rise.

Lemora and White even took it a step further.

"We're not here for fun and games," Lemora said. "We're here to get it. We're trying to get to a Rose Bowl. Maybe even a BCS Championship, who knows!"

"Only time will tell," said White. "We've got four or five years left under our belts. Only time will tell."

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