WSU Fall Camp: 3 position battles on D

A HEALTHY NUMBER of position battles, even where the starter appears entrenched, figure to begin anew all over the field when the Cougars open fall camp on Saturday. But for sheer drama, these three figure to be the most compelling on defense.

Tracy Clark (pictured) was the surprise of the spring, playing the best of a group of corners vying for this spot.

Clark's issue throughout his WSU career has been he looks great one play, gives up a big play the next. If it's all come together for him heading into his senior year, he could well be the guy lining up opposite Daquawn Brown.

The question here is how fast youngsters Charleston White, or Marcellus Pippins, can reach a consistent enough level of play.

Brown also has work to do at the field corner position, defensive coordinator Mike Breske told after the spring, but did show improvement operating within the scheme.

This is also the position where a newcomer could make the biggest impact.

Among those to keep an eye out for: Patrick Porter, Kevin Griffin and Sulaiman Hameed.

Indeed, the Cougs may need at least one of them to show they're ready to play in the Pac-12 now or it could be a white-knuckle type of season out on the islands.

Tana Pritchard comes in as the man to beat. He's coming off a solid spring and has steadily improved each season.

But Chester Sua is coming up fast.

Sua missed all of last year and was shaking off some rust in the spring's early going. But he turned in a strong second half -- so strong that Ken Wilson told he thought Sua would be a real factor this season and would push Pritchard for the starting job.

This figures to be a battle royale all camp long. And it could be that Pritchard and Sua give Wilson some real flexibility to freely rotate this season at the WIL.

Nothing was settled this spring between Kache Palacio and Ivan McLennan.

Palacio is arguably the better pass rusher, but McLennan isn't far behind and has more bulk (240) against the run.

Palacio at 227-pounds is quick but he's probably not going to realize his full potential unless he gets to around 240-pounds, and that's not going to be this season. But Palacio was also pretty good in stretches last year at the lower weight.

The guess here is one of two things happens: either one of them turns a corner and seizes the job, or you could see a rotating mix between the two with each getting time on Saturdays.

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