Night and day for Washington State secondary on ESPN

WASHINGTON STATE will head into the 2016 campaign in “great shape” in the defensive backfield, ESPN says. Comparing ESPN’s take of a year ago is like night and day.

Coming out of spring ball last year, the Cougs were firmly in ESPN’s “Uncertainty Reigns” category. And who could blame them given the WSU defensive backfield in the 2014 season.   

Here’s what ESPN’s Chantel Jennings said last year May of the Cougar secondary in her North position rankings:

This was a team that only recorded three interceptions and allowed a league-worst 8.3 yards per attempt in 2014. And off that defense, they lost a lot. Sorry Cougars, you’re not moving up this list quite yet.

Heading into spring ball this year, Jennings sees a very different WSU secondary, terming the Cougs to be in “Great Shape.”

The Cougars had the third-best pass defense in the Pac-12 in 2015 and they return most of their secondary, including Parker Henry, (pictured above) who plays a hybrid linebacker/safety role. The Cougars will need to find a replacement for Taylor Taliulu, but free safety Shalom Luani, who had four interceptions in 2015, is back as well as Marcellus Pippins, who had three interceptions and a team-high three fumble recoveries. This spring will be about getting their experienced players even more experience and finding someone to step into Taliulu’s shoes -- not a terrible “to-do” list.

JUCO safety Robert Taylor will not arrive until this summer and is expected to compete for a starting job at safety in fall camp.

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