CF.C talks to emerging Coug WR Kaleb Fossum

IF ERIC MELE hadn’t been so quick to respond, Kaleb Fossum might not be in Pullman. A second-year sophomore walk on receiver at Washington State, Fossum has emerged at the outside wide receiver position this spring and is looking to make a push for turns in the rotation.

Washington State’s special teams coach Eric Mele is “probably the only reason I’m here,” Fossum told CF.C.

“I sent a bunch of emails out with my film and Mele replied right away… He said, ‘I don’t know about playing receiver but you can definitely come and return some kicks for me in these upcoming years at Washington State.’  … He’s always stuck with me, he gave me a chance,” said Fossum.

Fossum, out of El Toro High in Lake Forest, Calif., had some potential D-I opportunities looming in baseball but few teams showed interest when it came to football. WSU was the exception.

“I wanted to play football, I love football. So I was going to sit down and talk with my family and whether I would be going to a junior college and then come out or just waiting for something D-I (to materialize). As soon as I talked to Mele though, everything worked out. Getting up here, I knew this was exactly where I was supposed to be. I love Washington State, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” said Fossum.

Fossum has turned heads through the first four spring practice sessions, including that of CF.C correspondent and former WSU inside receiver Tyler Baker. Fossum attributes ot to a year’s worth of experience, more confidence and the speed training regimen this offseason with strength coach Jason Loscalzo. But he knows he also has to have his own head on a swivel going against the Cougar secondary.

We asked him which WSU corner and safety have been the toughest to go against this speing.

“Maybe Treshon Broughton, he likes to get into it with little scraps with the outside receivers, he’s had a really good spring… but it’s all love after practice… And then I’m pretty sure no one in the Pac-12 wants to see Shalom Luani. The guy is a warrior, I don’t think he even feels pain -- I feel bad for a lot of teams this year,” said Fossum.

As a true freshman last season, Fossum carved out a spot on special teams, serving as holder all season and later playing his way onto the punt and kickoff return teams. This spring, with a new position coach in Dave Nichol taking over for the departed Graham Harrell, Fossum is working on carving out a niche at the X, Z, or both.

“(Nichol) told me he wants me learning both sides, to be kind of the filler like if I were playing Z and anything were to happen at X, he could plug me in because I know it and vice-versa. And I also know the inside positions too so that helps… emergencies happen and it’s a long season so I want to be prepared for anything,” said Fossum.

That doesn’t mean he’s looking to move away from special teams duty.

“Whatever Mele has planned for me… I’m ready to go, I’m ready to help the team. Mele told me he loves me returning back there so hopefully that’s the case this year… I love being on special teams,” said Fossum.

There’s always an adjustment period with a new position coach but it seems to be one Fossum and the outside receivers have made swiftly when it comes to Nichol.

“He’s a little more hard-nosed, I think last year we were a little more relaxed in the outside receivers room. He takes every second we have to get better, whether it’s in film or on the field catching balls after practice. He definitely has a little different coaching style than last year, and I think it’s what’s best for the team. He cares about his group of guys and communicates with us really well, tells us exactly what he wants and how he wants it… We really enjoy having him here,” said Fossum.

Fossum is keeping his focus simple this spring: catching every ball that comes his way this spring and improving his route running.

“If you’re fast you’re going to get open in high school, at the college level it’s different…,” said Fossum. “I need to pride myself in not dropping any balls, I need to catch every ball that comes my way and I need to be pretty much perfect in technique.

“I’m not a freak athlete and I’m not 6-5. I played slot my whole high school career and moved to outside last year in fall camp… The year behind Dom Williams and watching Gabe (Marks) has helped me to learn… Gabe is one of the most serious competitors in college football, his footwork and his reps are ridiculous so I’m trying to feed off him and learn from him.”

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