WSU spring: 5 position battles on defense

BY ONE ESTIMATE, only three of 11 positions on defense look to have virtual-lock starters at Washington State headed into spring ball. That leaves a whole lot of spirited position battles to commence when drills kick off Thursday.

Xavier Cooper at T, Toni Pole at NT and Darryl Monroe at middle linebacker will likely make it difficult for others to claim their starting spots. But both they and the Cougs will be better if their understudies push them and/or stake a claim to rotation playing time.

Meanwhile, spirited scrums are expected at the E, SAM and SS spots. But for sheer drama, these five spots could be the most compelling:

BUCK: Is Kache Palacio (pictured) ready this season to become a full-time starter or remain a situational sparkplug? Is Ivan McLennan ready to become a consistent presence? And/or is Emmitt Su'a-Kalio, he of the high ceiling, about to burst onto the scene?

WIL: This could be a two-man battle between Tana Pritchard (pictured)and Chester Sua -- but Jeremiah Allison or rookie Dylan Hanser could also crash the party. Whether it's two or more, this one could be fun to watch.

BCB: Sometimes it means good things if there's a tie in the two-deeps. But if Charleston White (pictured horizontally) and Tracy Clark battle to a draw this spring at the boundary corner, that might not be the case. Is White ready for prime time? Could Clark suddenly blossom in his fifth year?

FCB: Daquawn Brown (pictured, left) looked like a virtual starting lock earlier this offseason before his legal woes. Meanwhile, Marcellus Pippins since arriving in January has impressed in his short time at WSU. It should add up to must-see viewing at the field corner position.

FS This is the opposite of the boundary corner situation -- Taylor Taliulu (pictured) and Darius Lemora could both shine brightly this spring, and that would be a good thing. The key for both won't be found in the number of big plays they make, but rather in their consistency.

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