Spring faceoff: WSU key position battles on O

PULLMAN -- The position battle that will draw the most attention this spring on the Palouse will of course be found at quarterback. But don't forget about the outside wide receivers. While on paper the probable starters at the X and Z seem fairly clear, there's more to it than meets the eye.

There always is when there's a new position coach, and Graham Harrell enters his first spring as the outside receivers coach at Washington State.

The frontrunners to replace Vince Mayle and Isiah Myers are clear: Dom Williams (6-2, 190) and Gabe Marks (6-0, 181), with Williams likely at the X and Marks at the Z.

Williams (pictured above) tied for second on the team with Vince Mayle in TD receptions (nine) last season and hauled in 43 catches for 656 yards. His 15.3 yards per catch led the Cougs among those with more than two receptions. Marks led the Cougs in receiving in 2013 with 74 receptions and 807 receiving yards and tied for the team lead with seven TD grabs.

But Barry Ware (6-2, 213) is big and physical and could be ready to challenge after redshirting his first season. Harrell also likes what walk on Daniel Lilienthal (6-2, 199) has done this offseason to improve. Calvin Green (5-10, 170) could play on the outside or inside, Harrell has said, and Zaire Andre (5-10, 157) is another wildcard, and another potential outside/inside guy. Kyrin Priester (6-1, 185) has a lot of buzz surrounding him this spring but NCAA rules dictate the Clemson transfer sit out the 2015 season.

On the inside at the H, it looks wide open with Robert Lewis (5-9, 162); Green, Tyler Baker (5-10, 181); and Brett Bartolone (5-10, 185) all in the mix. River Cracraft meanwhile looks entrenched at the Y, as much as anyone can be in spring ball anyway.

At quarterback, Luke Falk is the incumbent but Peyton Bender will be given a long look. Much has already been written about this spring's marquee position battle, a whole lot more will be written over the 15 practices and it won't be much of a surprise if it turns out to be a neck and neck affair throughout.

At running back, Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks return but don't sleep on Keith Harrington. The converted wide receiver dazzled at times in Thursday Night Football. This is shaping up as the battle no one is talking about enough headed into spring drills.

On the offensive line, all five starters return but there is still intrigue.

Left guard Gunnar Eklund (6-7, 305) and left tackle Joe Dahl 6-4, 303) are all but set in stone. Right tackle Cole Madison (6-5, 300) looks solid as well but missed time late last season due to illness and was replaced by Jacob Seydel (6-6, 295).

Seydel and Cody O'Connell will both be gunning for the right guard spot, where Eduardo Middleton (6-5, 318) returns as the incumbent.

O-line coach Clay McGuire has also said Sean Krepsz (6-5, 328), Carlos Freeman (6-3, 300) and Andre Dillard (6-5, 245) could compete for a starting job and challenge this spring.

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