A salute to the 12 Cougars who bid farewell after the Holiday Bowl vs. Minnesota

IT'S A SMALL SENIOR CLASS at Washington State who will don the crimson and gray for the final time on Tuesday in the Holiday Bowl -- 12 to be precise. But there are some big shoes to fill in 2017.

Some never redshirted, some walked on -- all have been part of the Cougars’ turnaround that has produced a pair of bowl games and 17 combined wins the last two seasons.  A salute to the 12:

WR Gabe Marks will leave Pullman having set WSU program records galore, he heads into the bowl game with the top marks in receptions (312), touchdowns (37) and receiving yards (3,426). He is the all-time leading receiver in Pac-12 history, and is second in TDs behind USC's Dwayne Jarrett (41). A two-time, first team All-Pac-12 selection, Marks has caught 85 passes for 867 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2016. He played his first two seasons, redshirted due to injury, and then played his final two campaigns. Marks has accepted invitations to play in the NFLPA and East-West Shrine postseason all-star games. Marks and the next Coug on the list are the only receiving tandem in the 101-year history of the Pac-12 with 200 catches each.


WR River Cracraft finished his Cougar career second all-time at WSU and No. 16 in Pac-12 history with 218 grabs. The truly incredible part: Cracraft never played a full season after his true freshman campaign and will miss nine total games to injury, including the final three in 2016 to a torn ACL. Cracraft never redshirted. His senior season numbers: 10 games, 53 receptions, 701 yards and 5 TDs don't capture the highlight reel grabs he made look routine. Despite being an inside receiver, his 13.2 ypc leads the Cougs (25 catches min). He was twice named All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
USA Today Sports/James Snook

Center Riley Sorenson, despite never redshirting, took over the starting center job his sophomore season and will cap his Cougar career in the Holiday Bowl with his 33rd start. The rock in the middle of the Cougar o-line has shown remarkable perseverance in the face of tragedy over the past year: his dad died after suffering a heart attack before the Sun Bowl a year ago today, followed by the loss of his mother four months later from a long battle with cancer. As if that wasn't enough, Riley was diagnosed with testicular cancer this offseason. He came back strong in fall camp and has started all 12 regular season games in 2016. He was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention this season.

Safety Shalom Luani as the glue of the Cougar D in his second and final season with WSU after transferring from junior college. He was named first team All-Pac-12 this season, the first Cougar defensive back since Deone Bucannon in 2013, after being named honorable mention in 2015. Luani is tied for second in the conference with four interceptions to go along with his 58 tackles including 8 1/2 for loss (second-most on the Cougs) plus six pass breakups in 11 games. 

RG Eduardo Middleton has 37 straight starts headed into the bowl game. Perhaps the biggest testament to Middleton, Sorenson and the Cougar offensive line in 2016: with 19 more receiving yards, the Cougar running backs will be the first group of RBs with 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards for a Mike Leach-coached team. Cougar backs also lead Pac-12 ball carriers with 31 collective TDs and are third in total yards with 2,591.

NT Robert Barber will make his 21st start in the Holiday Bowl, with career totals of 39 tackles, 8 for loss and 3 sacks. In nine games this season (seven starts) the fifth-year senior posted 15 tackles including 2 1/2 for loss with a pair of sacks, a pass break up, a fumble recovery and one very big blocked field goal vs. Idaho that was the catalyst to an eight-game win streak. He'll also be remembered for the misguided three-game suspension by the WSU Conduct Board that was stayed by the legal system.

Nickel Parker Henry has 103 career tackles. He walked on at Washington State and then earned a scholie at the end of his third-year sophomore campaigned. Nicknamed "The Bulldog" he has 13 career starts and has played in 40 games at Wazzu after working his way up the ladder with solid special teams effort and production. His 2016 season was hampered by injury but he gutted out 10 games in 2016, making four starts, and has posted 25 tackles. Along with Marks, he was selected by Mike Leach to accompany the head coach to Pac-12 media day before the season.

WR John Thompson walked on at WSU in 2013 and after appearing in four combined games his first two seasons, the scrappy slot receiver has totaled 45 receptions for 440 yards and 1 TD the last two seasons.  He has four career starts and was put on scholarship before the 2016 campaign.

LB Paris Taylor came to WSU out of junior college and played in 22 games the past two seasons, some at linebacker and primarily on special teams. He's logged seven career tackles with 2 for loss.

CB Treshon Broughton is a junior college transfer who blossomed as a key reserve his senior season. He appeared in all 12 games, with one start. Headed into the Holiday, he has 16 tackles including one for loss, an interception, pass breakup and forced fumble.

Nickel/DB Colton Teglovic, a walk on special teams mainstay, has played in all 12 games this season and has posted 7 unassisted tackles. Over his WSU career, he has played in 34 games with 18 tackles (12 solo).

DL Jeremiah Mitchell came to WSU as a 4-star signee out of junior college but was hampered by injuries his first season and was never able to climb the depth chart ladder. He played in six games  in his two seasons at WSU.

NOTABLE NOTE: C.J. Dimry is a fifth-year senior but is waiting to hear from the NCAA on his waiver request for a sixth year of eligibility due to injury. A sixth year is generally granted when a player has missed two seasons (or close to it) due to injury. Dimry missed the 2015 season with WSU and had one catch in another season in junior college.

RELATED: When dad died, 9-year-old Gabe Marks made a vow

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