WSU rookies getting their special teams shot

THROUGH FOUR DAYS of camp, Washington State has taken a look at a bevy of players in various special teams roles. Included in the gaggle have been a number of Cougar rookies. If those youngsters shine brightly enough on special teams in fall camp, that only increases the chances of playing time in their first year.

Mike Leach’s general rule of thumb when it comes to redshirting is to burn the redshirt if the player climbs into the two-deeps. We still expect most of the incoming class to redshirt but WSU can’t have another special teams season like ’14, with kicking woes, an ungodly six returns for score allowed and various other missteps.

And that could mean some of the newcomers earn their way onto the field in ’15 with special teams tipping the balance.

At gunner, among those special teams coach Eric Mele is taking a look at are WR Tavares Martin (6-1, 165, pictured above), S Hunter Dale (5-10, 202), WR Kyle Sweet (6-0, 186) and CB Darrien Molton (5-10, 170).

There is no set body type that defines a good gunner. Jason Hill, before he became a star wideout, was a great gunner for the Cougs as a 6-0, 189-pound freshman. There were oodles of gunners getting reps in yesterday’s practice – not a surprise on special teams or at other positions with coaches wanting to get as many early looks at players as they can.

The Cougs’ top four gunners coming into camp were Colton Teglovic, Keith Harrington, Daniel Roach and Daniel Lilienthal. Keep an eye out for Skyler Cracraft here, too. Also potentially in the mix: WR Kyrin Priester if he is granted a waiver from the NCAA (we consider it a long shot).

In the return game, Mele will cycle through and take a look at a number of players. Martin, Sweet, James Williams and walk on Caleb Fossum are all freshmen names to keep an eye on. Marcellus Pippins came into camp as the leading candidate on punt returns. Harrington and Gabe Marks remain strong candidates on kickoff returns. Priester is also getting looks on kickoff returns.

At kicker, there are several competing with a pair of freshmen, Matt Abramo and Zach Charme, the early frontrunners.

At punter, the leading candidates are veteran Erik Powell and newcomer Zach Charme. Powell, as we mentioned in the spring, was coming along and in fall camp, he’s picked up where he left off. Things could also change when Blake Levin arrives. Levin is waiting on paperwork to clear through the NCAA and was expected to arrive at WSU this week but looks like he’s still waiting on the green light.

The long snapping job appears a two-way battle between two Cougar rookie walk ons: Lucas Gravelle and Kyle Celli. (Gravelle is a junior, Celli is a second-year freshman but both are in their first season with the Cougs). As with the other special teams spots, and only four days in, the long snapping competition figures to go on for a while in fall camp.


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