WSU's Jim Mastro with the lowdown on Coug RBs

GERARD WICKS is a powerful running back. So fans might not realize right away he’s the fastest of the three Washington State returnees at the position. That was among the many insights gleaned from WSU running backs coach Jim Mastro in a recent conversation with

The collective work ethic this offseason of Gerard Wicks (5-11, 219), Jamal Morrow (5-8, 189) and Keith Harrington (5-7, 180) has pleased their position coach.

“The mid-summer report from the weight room was outstanding with those three guys,” said Mastro.

We asked Mastro for a position overview headed into the summer and fall camp by talking about the strengths and areas in need of improvement for each running back.

“Jamal can do it all: runs, blocks, catches,” said Mastro. “Jamal is a student of the game, he kind of does everything right, has unbelievable hands as we saw last year. He needs to be a little bit more explosive, needs to make people miss in the open field a little bit more. He got better at that last year and that’s just the progression of getting faster and stronger, and that comes with the weight room and all that stuff.

“Gerard Wicks is your powerful, ‘Thunder,’ hard running, explosive guy. He’s the fastest one of the three. People think he’s just this in between the tackles runner but when he gets on the perimeter he can do some things. He’s a really good worker in the weight room. Sometimes he let fatigue get the best of him at times – again, that’s the natural progression of being a freshman. But he’s gotten better at that. You don’t want to let your opponents see you’re tired... That was just a body language thing that we had to correct and it’s gotten better.

“Harrington is a dynamic, elusive, quick, tough little guy – and when I say little I’m talking (height) because he is a put together kid. He has a very strong lower body and he is very, very competitive. They’re all three competitive but if Harrington loses in a drill or doesn’t do something on a play he expected himself to do, he really gets down on himself. I like that because he cares, but you also have to learn to move on to the next play.”

True freshman James Williams (5-11, 185) will go through his first fall camp with the Cougs next month.

“With a true freshman… you have an idea of what he’s going to be, but it’s a tough process -- it’s not high school anymore,” said Mastro. “I think all three of these guys, Wicks, Morrow and Harrington, would tell you that what they thought it would be vs. going through their first fall camp was a whole different ball game. So it’s tough to break into a lineup as a true freshman. But again, our philosophy is that the best players are going to play. We’ll see what happens.”

Just to make sure we’ve got this right – Wicks is faster than Harrington?

“Harrington is quicker than he is fast, he gets from 0-10 yards in a hurry. But if you want to put them together and say go 50 (yards), I’m pretty sure Wicks wins that one,” said Mastro.

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