WSU SPRING: No longer the unknown receiver

WASHINGTON STATE HAS a lot of name recognition, firepower and depth at the wide receiver position for 2014. But Mike Leach likes a strong, multi-player rotation at wideout and for good reason. And injuries happen. And even if they didn't, there's a wide receiver who has emerged this spring, one who might not be the first name that comes to mind.

Wideout Drew Loftus this spring isn't playing like a walk on.

Simply put, the 6-2, 197-pounder, an outside receiver for the Cougs, just goes out there and makes plays.

The fourth-year junior has looked exceedingly comfortable going against anyone, and he's been winning a lot of those 1-on-1 battles, as much as anyone else has this spring.

HE'S BEEN ESPECIALLY productive in the red zone this spring, CF.C's Michael-Shawn Dugar says. And that's especially important -- WSU ranked No. 93 nationally last year in red zone offense, 104th the year before.

And when he's been targeted with a jump ball from the 20-yard line in this spring, it's more often than not come down in his hands.

Loftus has been primarily been running at the Z, where Gabe Marks is listed as the starter. Vince Mayle is listed at the other outside spot, as is Dom Williams. And so no one is predicting Loftus will vault over others and start the opener against Rutgers. And a good number of expected Cougar starters and key contributors have been limited this spring, so Loftus has been out there more.

But when Mike Leach can rotate his receivers without a precipitous drop in quality, the Air Raid sings.

LOFTUS HAS TAKEN a winding path to get to where he is now. He turned down a football scholarship offer from New Mexico State and a baseball offer from Washington to walk on at Hawaii. A year later, he walked on at WSU. He was dismissed from the program 1 ½ years ago after being arrested but worked his way back into the good graces of Leach and was reinstated before fall camp last year.

One of the first things Leach told Cougfan.com when he arrived in Pullman was that he likes to, if he can, rotate eight wide receivers during the game in order to keep everyone fresh and to stress a defense even more.

Loftus has been making his case this spring to become one of those guys.

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