Old coach says no red flags with new WSU WR

KYRIN PRIESTER has been variously praised by Washington State coaches for his speed and the instant impact he's expected to have on the Cougar receiving corps when he becomes eligible in 2016. But a question lurks: What about the red flag Clemson coach Dabo Swinney planted on Priester when the touted wideout was dismissed from the Tigers this past season?

Sweeney cited “an attitude that is not acceptable to our standards” when he showed the door to the 3-star prospect after just one game in 2014.

“It shocked me,” Priester’s former prep school coach, Col. John Shuman of Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, told Cougfan.com on Wednesday when asked why things didn’t work out for Priester at Clemson.

“I was just sitting here and some kid walked in and said Kyrin Priester just got kicked off the team. I was like, ‘What? That guy?’”

After hearing the news, Shuman called Priester and told him to keep his chin up. Already receiving calls from college coaches about his former player’s availability, Shuman said he offered to put in a good word for Priester and believes the Clemson situation was “a little hiccup.”

“He’ll be a good man, you’ll see,” Shuman said.

Shuman, after all, saw the way Priester worked to get academically eligible in his year at Fork Union following a standout career at Brookwood High in Snellville, Ga., where he caught 56 passes for 1,116 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior.

At Brookwood, Priester initially committed verbally to Georgia and then North Carolina State before ultimately signing with Clemson. With academic hurdles to clear, Shuman said a member of the Tigers’ coaching staff referred Priester to Fork Union. He entered the academy’s postgraduate program, which is designed to help players boost their standardized test scores.

“He got his ACT up ... Got it done. Got in there. Boom, boom, boom,” Shuman said. “The only thing I can say is he was a pretty sharp arrow here. We fight complacency and fatigue all day long. He wasn’t complacent. He was energized trying to get eligible. That’s why we have a half-year program. He got eligible about Nov. 23 and was out of here Dec. 10.”

But nine months later, Priester was back on the market after "some differences I had with my position coach.”

Fork Union Military Academy, known commonly by the acronym FUMA, isn’t a football factory where kids go to take easy classes in hopes of qualifying for college, said Shuman. It’s a private, Christian military boarding school where structure rules. No girls attend. Cell phones aren’t allowed, and the same goes for television and music. Priester did just fine in that rugged, hyper-controlled environment, Shuman noted.

“He got up every morning at six o'clock, put on the appropriate military attire, went to breakfast, came back, cleaned his room up (for) inspection, then he went to class from 8 to 2 o'clock, had drills on Monday and Wednesdays, and then practice,” Shuman said. “Everything fell in line with the routine. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 (p.m.), study for two hours, go to bed at 10 o'clock and get up and do the same thing over again.”

It makes the “Leach Beach” sound fun.

Shuman has been coaching and teaching at FUMA for 35 years. During that span, he’s had no shortage of talent, including former NFL players such as Vinny Testaverde, Eddie George and Plaxico Burress, and current NFLers Carlos Hyde of the 49ers and Anthony Costanzo of the Colts.

Add Cardale Jones, the third-string Ohio State quarterback that led the Buckeyes to the National Championship this past season, to the list of notable FUMA alumni.

“Of all the guys I’ve been around, you would think Cardale Jones or (Ohio State WR Mike Thomas) would have been kicked off a team before (Priester),” Shuman quipped.

Since Priester played one game for Clemson on special teams last season, he’ll redshirt the 2015 campaign at WSU because of NCAA transfer rules, but he can still participate in spring ball and fall practice. Starting in 2016, he'll have three-to-play-three at Washington State.

Earlier this month in separate articles on CF.C, both new outside receivers coach Graham Harrell and WSU football chief of staff Dave Emerick praised Priester's work in Midnight Maneuvers. Priester has pro-level speed, according to Shuman.

“We had nine receivers so we featured him when the game was on the line,” he said. “Here, since they're post-graduates, everybody needs a highlight so we spread the ball around. He ended up with 32 receptions. He was our inside-sweep guy. He was our screen guy. I mean, he's got that 1-A caliber burst.”

Shuman doesn’t think Priester will have a problem living so far from home. He compared Fork Union, Virginia, a rural outpost in its own right, to Pullman.

“He’s used to it, being up here in the boonies,” Shuman said. “What are you, like eight miles away from the University of Idaho over there? It’s cold (there). It’s cold here.”

The colonel’s message for Priester?

“We hold him in high regard,” Shuman said. “Please tell him that. Tell him we miss him.”

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