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WSU fall camp preview: Linebackers

MIKE LINEBACKER Peyton Pelluer has established himself as one of the top players on the Washington State defense. But after the fourth-year junior, there are plenty of 'backer unknowns headed into fall camp. But there is also evidence to suggest the Cougs’ linebacker corps will be faster than a year ago.

Returners: Peyton Pelluer (R-Jr., 6-0, 235, pictured above, No. 47); Frankie Luvu (Jr., 6-2, 230); Parker Henry (R-Sr., 5-11, 206); Kirkland Parker (R-Jr., 6-1, 185); Aaron Porter (Sr., 6-3, 227); Paris Taylor (R-Sr., 6-3, 223); Isaac Dotson (R-Jr., 6-1, 224); Greg Hoyd (R-So., 6-1, 230); Colton Teglovic (R-Sr., 6-0, 193, walk on); Nate DeRider (R-Jr., 6-1, 225, walk on); Tristan Brock (R-Fr., 6-0, 246 walk on);

New faces:  Chima Onyeukwu (Jr., 6-3, 210); Jahad Woods (Fr., 6-0, 215). (Note: Suliasi Tamaivena is not expected for the start of fall camp and is not listed on the official roster. The latest word was he still has some academic work to finish up).

Departed scholarship players: Jeremiah Allison

What to like: Pelluer has become a team leader and led WSU in tackles in his second year on the Palouse (101, 5th in Pac-12).  Nickel Parker Henry has gone from walk on to scholie player to starter over his WSU career and emerged last season as a key component to the Cougar D.

Luvu enters fall camp atop the depth chart at WIL after playing in 12 games and could be poised to take off. But he also figures to have competition in his quest to replace Allison. 

Onyeukwu is faster and with more sideline-to-sideline coverage than was Allison – what remains to be seen is how quickly he adjusts to the Pac-12 level of competition coming out of junior college and if he can play with the same smarts Allison did.  Mike Leach said this offseason that Onyeukwu is “strong and explosive” and “looks like a Saturday morning cartoon character.”

Biggest question: Depth and level of rotation.  Linebackers coach Ken Wilson and outside ‘backers coach Roy Manning would love to liberally rotate as situations call for and to keep the starters fresh in the fourth quarter and in the latter half of the season.  They also wouldn’t mind seeing some players step up in fall camp and challenge the incumbents.

Dotson, when healthy, has found his way into the starting lineup – he started in four games at nickel this past season and played in eight. But he’s battled injuries throughout his career at WSU. If he can stay healthy, he’s a potential starter in any given week.

Parker got his feet wet last season in his first season out of junior college. He’s listed as a corner on the roster but is at nickel on the depth chart behind Henry. How much he has improved between Years One and Two is something to watch for in fall camp.

Porter is highly versatile and capable of playing WIL, MIKE or Rush and will be counted upon to (at least) play in rotation without a significant drop-off.  Taylor played in 10 games on the season, at linebacker and primarily on special teams, posting one tackle. Teglovic and DeRider may be walk ons but they are also more than capable of earning game day reps.

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