SIXTEEN WASHINGTON STATE seniors will don the crimson and gray for the final time on Saturday. Some never redshirted, some walked on -- all have been part of the Cougars’ resurgence in 2015.
A salute to the 16 who came to WSU with the idea they would help lead the Cougars back to winning seasons and bowl games, and who accomplished exactly that.
WR Dom Williams will leave WSU as one of the schools’ most prolific pass catchers. He has 30 career TD receptions, second only to Jason Hill and he has 2,846 career receiving yards, No. 2 on all the all-time WSU list (Marquess Wilson, 3,207, 2010-12). Williams this season has racked up 73 grabs for 997 hashes with 11 TDs -- his totals rank fourth, fourth and second in the Pac-12 this season, respectively.
LT Joe Dahl transferred from Montana to WSU and proceeded to start 33 straight games and become one of the nation's best pass protectors in all of college football. This season, despite missing the final four regular season games to a foot injury, he was named first-team All-Pac-12 and USA Today All-America second team - the first Cougar offensive lineman to earn All-America honors since 2002 (Derrick Roche).
LG Gunnar Eklund will cap his Cougar career in the Sun Bowl having started 45 of 50 possible games at Washington State, including the last 38 straight. Not bad for a guy who walked on out of Lake Stevens High in 2011. Eklund, who has the versatility and size to play both guard and tackles, has won the Bone Award (given by WSU coaches after each game) three times this season, more than any other WSU o-lineman.
LB Jeremiah Allison never redshirted at WSU. He contributed mostly on special teams his first two season but then took over the starting WIL job his junior season and will notch his 22nd consecutive start in the Sun Bowl. Allison was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention after his junior year, placing second on team with 78 tackles. This season, he is again second on the team in tackles, but with 91 stops.
DL Darryl Paulo received his first Pac-12 all-conference recognition (second team) in his final season at Washington State by leading the Cougars in tackles-for-loss (12.0) and is tied for the team lead in sacks (6.0). Paulo ranks seventh in the Pac-12 in TFLs.
DL Destiny Vaeao, who never redshirted, also received his first all-conference accolade this season as a Pac-12 second-team pick. He’s gone from a quiet and shy player to a vocal leader out on the field, posting 11.0 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks this season and could be the first of the Washington State players taken in next year’s NFL Draft.
LB Kache Palacio became a pass-rushing specialist during his four seasons at WSU and is expected to earn his 32nd straight start in the Sun Bowl. He has 31 tackles this season and is among the team leaders in tackles for loss (10) and sacks (5). Palacio was also a key member spearheading the WSU special teams turnaround in the latter half of this season, having never redshirted at Wazzu.
Safety Taylor Taliulu finished in the top five on the team for tackles each of the past two seasons and is likely to do it again as a senior. He is expected to start his 35th game as a Cougar on Saturday and stands fifth on the team in tackles this season with 46. He notched his first career interception on Senior Night against Colorado. Taliulu also never redshirted at WSU.
LB Ivan McLennan came to WSU out of junior college and has been a key reserve for the Cougs the past two seasons. He posted 21 tackles with 5 1/2 for loss including 4 1/2 sacks in 2014. This season he’s shared time with Palacio at the Rush and could double two of those ’14 figures – McLennan headed into the Sun Bowl has 38 tackles, with eight for loss and five sacks.
OL Jacob Seydel came to WSU after a stint in junior college and has started six games the past two seasons, with arguably none more important than the ASU game this year when Dahl was out.
DL/OL Devonte McClain came to WSU out of College of San Mateo as a late June pickup in 2013. He spent his first two seasons as an offensive lineman before switching to a reserve role on the d-line for his final year. Primarily served as a scout team lineman.
WR Tyler Baker walked on at WSU, transferring from Ole Miss, and emerged last season when he led the team with nine receptions and 89 receiving yards against USC. He started three games in 2014, posting 27 receptions for 308 yards and two TDs on the year. He has 12 catches for 108 hashes this season.
K Quentin Breshears came to WSU as a junior college transfer walk on out of junior college and started 10 games last season as the Cougs’ kicker. He made 9 of 12 FG attempts as a junior in 2014. Erik Powell won the starting job this season with Breshears posting his first official statistics in the regular season finale, kicking off three times in the Apple Cup.
OL Moritz Christ came to WSU as a walk on in 2011. An exchange student from Germany at a Texas high school before heading to Pullman, he appeared in two games as a second-year freshman.
DB Skyler Cracraft walked on at WSU in 2014 as a fourth-year junior out of junior college, joining his younger brother River in a WSU uniform.
WR Daniel Lilienthal walked on as a junior and has been primarily a special teams player this season. He has four catches this season for 32 yards.
Paulo and Williams were the two remaining members of Paul Wulff’s final recruiting class, while Christ also walked on under Wulff.