Harrell: Don't sleep on Coug outside WRs

ON PAPER, it seems like a lot to overcome – the Cougars at the outside receiver position in 2015 will be replacing both starters plus they’ll have a new position coach. So why is Graham Harrell feeling so good about his group heading into spring ball?

For starters, there’s familiarity.

“I know them pretty well,” new WSU assistant coach Graham Harrell says of his outside receivers. “We have some personalities in there and we have some talent. If we can get everyone on the same page, I think we have a chance to be a pretty special group.”

Harrell’s big takeaway: opponents will have to defend a variety of different bodies and skill sets.

“One thing I’m excited about is everyone is kind of a different guy -- nobody is the same. We have tall guys, we have fast guys, we have small guys, we just have a variety of guys all with different talents,” said Harrell.

With Vince Mayle, Isiah Myers and Kristoff Williams graduating, the two most experienced outside Cougs returning in ‘15 -- and likely to be listed atop the spring depth chart at the X and Z positions -- are Gabe Marks (pictured above) and Dom Williams.

Before redshirting this past season, Marks in 2013 led Washington State in receiving as a sophomore, with 75 receptions for 807 yards (10.9) and 7 TDs.

“I really think that redshirt year was a good thing for him, he really worked his tail off,” said Harrell. “I think he’s become a better player and he’s matured a little bit. He’s worked hard in the weight room and he’s one I think that has a chance to have a big year.”

Williams is coming off a season where he tied for second on the team with Mayle in TD receptions (9) with 43 catches for 656 yards. His 15.3 ypc led the Cougs (among those with more than two receptions).

“Dom Williams is another one who has been around and has done some really good things, he seems to be taking a leadership role with that group. Hopefully that will only grow as time goes. I think those two (Williams, Marks) have a chance to be really special -- but I also think the whole group does,” said Harrell.

A redshirt-freshman and a fifth-year walk on are among that group.

“There are some young guys who are just babies in the offense, like Barry Ware,” said Harrell of the 6-2, 213-pounder. “He has some talent and he has a body that could be very useful. Daniel Lilienthal (6-2, 199) he’s been around a while but his body seems to have changed and he’s doing some good things and working hard.”

Calvin Green (5-10, 170) last season was listed on the depth chart at the Z position, though because of his size it will be interesting to see if he lines up with the outside or inside receivers this spring.

Zaire Andre (5-10, 157) has only been here for a year but he’s working hard this offseason -- and I don’t know if we’re going to move (him) from the inside to the outside,” said Harrell.

Speedy Kyrin Priester, who transferred from Clemson to WSU in January and may be the fastest player on the Cougs, has already made a strong impression in his short time in Pullman.

“He’s going to have to sit out a year but… whenever he gets on the field he’s going to be a special, special talent,” said Harrell.

Harrell said finding the best ways in 2015 to best deploy a versatile, talented group will be “a fun challenge.”

“If they let loose and play, and buy into the way we’re going to do things, we have a chance to be a really special group,” he said.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Spring ball starts on March 26. The Cougars' spring game will be held April 25 in Spokane.

  • WR Drew Loftus' name no longer appears on WSU’s official roster. WSU SID did not immediately return messages seeking confirmation Loftus is no longer with the program. A source tells CF.C Loftus left the program shortly before Midnight Maneuvers began a little over two weeks ago in order to concentrate on school. Loftus would have been a fifth-year walk on in 2015. Loftus turned in an excellent spring session a year ago primarily at the Z receiver spot but couldn't carry that success into the 2014 season. WSU’s official stats credit him with one catch for six yards in 2014. Loftus was arrested on two occasions over a span of 18 months in 2013-14 on charges of shoplifting and assault, he was dismissed from the program after the first incident in 2013 but later worked his way back into the good graces of Mike Leach. Loftus coming out of high school turned down a football scholarship offer from New Mexico State and a baseball offer from Washington to walk on at Hawaii before walking on a year later at WSU.

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