Taking stock of Cougar QB depth

JUST ONE SCHOLIE QUARTERBACK can be the difference between being thin vs. well stocked at the position. With 2016 class QB Anthony Gordon pledging Washington State on Tuesday, it’s the perfect time to look at the Cougar QB depth.

Mike Leach has said he prefers to have four scholarship players and two walk ons in his quarterbacks stable. 

If one of the Cougs’ scholie QBs moves to another position in fall camp as some CougFans expect he might, Leach looks to have exactly that heading into the 2016 season. 

Luke Falk (6-4, 214) Fourth-year junior; Starter
Falk is a dark horse Heisman candidate after leading the nation with 380.5 ypg last year.  As impressive as his numbers were in 2015 (448 of 645 for 4,566 yards, 38 TDs, 8 INT) there’s good reason to expect him to be even better in 2016: 1) last year was Falk’s first full season as a starter and 2) Falk headed into his junior campaign now has the ins and outs of the Air Raid down pat.

Peyton Bender (6-0, 190) Third-year sophomore; Battling for No. 2 job
Bender has the strongest arm of all the Cougar QBs, and he arguably looks the best slinging it.  A pair of decent outings filling in for Falk vs. UCLA and Colorado last year were undone by a disastrous Apple Cup. Room for improvement with Bender:  reads and decision making. If/when he does put that side of it together, he could be a very good Pac-12 QB.

Tyler Hilinski (6-3, 191) Second-year freshman; Battling for No. 2 job
Bender in our view had the slightest of edges post-spring over Hilinski – but Hilinski unquestionably had the better spring game (26 of 31, 223 yards, 1 TD). The next step for Hilinski in his second fall camp? Decrease the number of times he tries to fit the football into too-tight of windows. But Hilinski has good gridiron instincts and anticipates nicely, and figures to improve in that area come August.

Anthony Gordon (6-3, 185) Second-year freshman, Arrives later this month
The sample size on Gordon, a 14-minute Hudl reel, is too small to draw firm conclusions but that said, his tape shows a QB who looks like a perfect fit for Leach’s offense, with the premium being on accuracy and decision making. Some CF.C members after viewing Gordon’s tape made the observation he looks a lot like Falk. Gordon has a redshirt year available, and told CF.C a Pac-12 offer was the only thing that would have kept him from returning to CCSF in ’16.

Justus Rogers (6-2, 218) True freshman; QB/ATH
An early enrollee, Rogers went through spring ball at QB with up and down results - not unexpected for a true freshman who rarely threw the ball in high school. Leach has said Rogers may be too valuable not to get on the field at another position (possibly linebacker or defensive back). But Rogers continues to be listed as QB/ATH on WSU’s official roster.

The walk ons:

Christian Jorgensen (6-2, 195) Second-year freshman
Jorgensen as a true freshman effectively served as the No. 3 QB last year. While WSU wanted to preserve Hilinski’s redshirt, part of the reason was also because Leach likes what he has in Jorgensen. Jorgensen’s best asset is his accuracy, and he acquitted himself well in Thursday Night Football this past season.

Bryce Missey (6-0, 190) True freshman
As a senior at Bethel High this past season, Missey was accurate on the short to medium throws, got the ball out of his hand quickly and generally made good decisions. His first year at WSU is likely to be spent mentoring under Leach and polishing his fundamentals and pocket presence in the Air Raid.


Connor Neville (6-2, 195) Class of 2017
The 4-star verbal commit out of Wilsonville, Ore., was recently one of the top 5 offensive performers at The Opening Seattle and performed very well in the Oakland event as well. A protégé of Alex Brink, Neville “knows the footwork, he knows the reads” of Mike Leach’s Air Raid. He’s improved his touch and accuracy considerably over the past year or so. Leach and WSU earlier this offseason looked bound and determined to take two QBs this class in order to get the numbers right -- but things can change quickly in recruiting and after landing Gordon this week, WSU appears likely to go the customary route and bring in one QB in Neville for the 2017 class.

RELATED STORY: Forecasting WSU wins, title chances and Heisman odds for Luke Falk


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