The most overlooked Coug headed into 2015

HE DIDN’T get a lot of ink this spring and sometimes when that happens, it becomes a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind for fans. There’s also a rising player at his position plus a second-year freshman for whom big things will be counted upon in 2015. But don’t overlook Washington State running back Jamal Morrow.

This is not a repeat of the previous year, when Marcus Mason went from leading the Cougs in all-purpose yards to an afterthought. Mason as a senior was displaced because Morrow and Gerard Wicks as second-year freshmen were simply more productive and got upfield quicker. Morrow, on the other hand, wasn’t heard from as much this spring because of something else.

First, WSU doesn’t release injury information but Morrow missed some time this spring. But even had he been fully healthy, I doubt he would have seen a ton of turns.

Spring is the time for experimentation, and so it would follow the spring session at running back was primarily about seeing what Keith Harrington could do in various situations, and also a little about getting Wicks more reps.

Wicks missed time last last year with an illness, then worked hard in the offseason to bulk up to 219 pounds. Harrington spent last year turning heads in Thursday Night Football. There was undoubtedly a desire to see what they could bring to the table this spring - Wicks with his new physique and Harrington against elevated competition.

Meanwhile, the Cougs already knew what they have in Morrow plus the last thing they wanted was for him to exacerbate an injury that carries on into the summer.

All five starting o-linemen are back and that should mean more touches and production on the ground – probably not a huge increase, this is the Air Raid after all, but more than last year when the running backs had but 175 combined carries and 680 hashes.

Harrington has increased the competition level in the group. But at 5-7, 180-pounds, he also figures to be at his most effective in spurts rather than as an every down back. Wicks, for as physical as he is, might not be as productive in the back half of the season if he takes an exorbitant amount of hits in the front end. Harrington in particular is likely to have his greatest impact on the receiving end, when the Cougs can get him out in space and let him uncork his moves.

That brings up one other point on Morrow – his ability as a receiver.

It doesn’t get as much play as it should when it comes to the Washington State running backs but Morrow hauled in 61 receptions last season.

That’s the most ever for a Cougar running back in program history.

It was also second-most grabs in the nation last year for a running back.

WSU running backs coach Jim Mastro oft-mentioned last year that Morrow and Wicks were only in their first year playing college ball, implying both would only get better in ’15. (Squally Canada apparently agreed, after sizing up the potential for playing time he quit the team last October midway through his true freshman season).

While Morrow was not heard from as much this spring as were Wicks and Harrington, I’ll be very surprised if that’s still the case come the end of August.

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