Special teams: Taking stock of WSU gunners

THE OFFICIAL depth chart for Week 1 released on Monday morning answered a lot of special teams questions. But a Washington State depth chart doesn’t typically list the gunners on punt coverage. So where does all that stand with the Cougs, less than five days out from the season opener? The names in the mix at gunner might surprise you.

From how the preseason has played out, our take is special teams coach Eric Mele is still deciding who his gunners will be with a decision probably coming after Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s practice (not that it would be something WSU would necessarily announce).

The front runner of the gunner group from our chair is Colton Teglovic – it will be a surprise to us if Teglovic (pictured above) is not lining up at one of the gunner spots on Saturday (WSU vs. Portland State, 11 a.m., Pac-12 Networks).

But where it gets interesting is in the top group of remaining gunner candidates, with not a walk on among ‘em.

Gabe Marks, Darrien Molton, Shalom Luani, Keith Harrington and Robert Lewis are all in the gunner mix, and all could potentially see time in the role at some point.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t a surprise that Zach Charme was listed on the Week 1 chart as the starting punter. Nor that Erik Powell will handle field goals and kickoffs. (We had thought, with Matt Abramo being limited a decent amount, that Brett Schafer had a shot early in fall camp to claim one or both of those jobs but Powell has been the top performer). If Abramo were to come back healthy soon, one possibility would be for him to boot his way into the kickoff job.

On punt returns, Kyrin Priester has claimed the starting role. On kickoff returns, Tavares Martin is the primary return man with Priester listed behind him on the chart.

Priester and Martin, both Cougar rookies, are explosive -- WSU’s lengthy return for TD drought could come to an end in one or both categories this year. Note: Marks, Harrington and River Cracraft remain in the mix as return men, and Marks is listed as the No. 2 punt returner.

Lucas Gravelle won the Week 1 long snapper job over Kyle Celli. The holder is true freshman walk on Kaleb Fossum.

The last time Washington State returned a punt for a TD was in 2005, when Michael Bumpus raced one back 87 yards at Nevada. You have to go back even further for a WSU kickoff return for score -- Sammy Moore in 2003 at Colorado (97 yards).

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