The 5 best players on the 2015 Cougars

WHEN THE BALLOTS were counted, four things were pretty clear. First, a 310-pound one-time walk on is viewed by the brain trust and a few other knowledgeable folks we consulted as the top cat on the 2015 Cougars. Second, that it should come as no surprise at an Air Raid school that three of the five players voted best on the team are receivers.

Third, that expectations for third-year sophomore quarterback Luke Falk are high. No, he didn't make this top 5 list, but he came close.

And fourth, that while the Cougar defense attracted modest attention for this list outside of one clear choice, there definitely is intrigue on that side of the ball with players such as Destiny Vaeao and Charleston White.

Without further ado, here is CF.C's preseason lineup of the five best players on the 2015 Cougars:

1. Left tackle JOE DAHL (fifth-year senior/Spokane)

The former walk enters his third season as a starter and will contend for first-team all-conference honors following honorable mention plaudits in 2014. He surrendered just one sack in 771 Cougar pass attempts last season and earned WSU’s Mike Utley Offensive Lineman of the Year award. Protecting the quarterback's blind side is always key, but when that QB is a young gun, having a steady-as-rain rock manning the left side takes off all kinds of pressure. Dahl is good enough to attract NFL attention next spring.

2. Wide receiver DOM WILLIAMS (fifth-year senior/Pomona, Calif.)

River Cracraft and Gabe Marks are getting the bulk of preseason publicity among Cougar receivers, and it’s easy to understand why, but Williams’ big-play credentials -- in an offense that’s been better at moving than scoring -- make him something special. For the last two seasons he’s led the Cougars in catches of 20-yards or more and in 2014 he was fifth in the Pac-12 and No. 25 nationally in TD receptions (9). In the last three seasons he’s caught 117 passes and averaged a glossy 15.8 yards per grab.

3. Wide receiver RIVER CRACRAFT (junior/Trabuco Canyon, Calif.)

Despite missing three-plus games last season, he hauled in 66 passes -- third-most on the team and ninth-most in the conference -- for 771 yards and 8 TDs. He was named all-Pac-12 honorable mention for the second-straight season and is on the 2015 Biletnikoff Award Watch List. He’s sure-handed, reliable and shifty.

4. Wide receiver GABE MARKS (fourth-year junior/Venice, Calif.)

WSU’s leading receiver in 2013 (74 catches and a team-high 7 TDs), Marks redshirted last season ostensibly to mature. His work in the spring season suggests he’ll be back better than ever in 2015. To say he turned heads in the spring is a towering understatement. Couple that with his experience -- 123 career catches for 1,367 yards -- and you have yet another huge reason why quarterback Luke Falk should be smiling come the Sept. 5 opener.

5. Linebacker JEREMIAH ALLISON (senior/Los Angeles)

Given the woes of the Cougar defense in 2014, it’s perhaps no surprise that but one defender would make this top 5 list, but the 6-2, 228-pound Allison was a clear choice. He’s a team leader who plays with fire. He broke into the starting lineup last season in Week 4 and went on to earn honorable mention all-conference honors after posting 78 total tackles (second-most on the team), including 8.5 TFLs (third most). The WSU defense looks to take a significant step forward in 2015 and Allison will be leading the way.

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