JC coach: Big success has come quickly for Cougar OL Robert Valencia; who is still very new to playing on the o-line

THE ABILITY to enroll early at Washington State and go through spring ball figures to greatly benefit all six of the Cougars' six early January enrollees. But it might be most important to new Cougar o-lineman Robert Valencia.

You see, although Valencia was rated 4 stars – and the No. 21 junior college recruit nationally – that lofty ranking was built in one season. Literally.

“Robert has only played 11 games on the offensive line in his entire life,” City College of San Francisco head man Jimmy Collins told CF.C.

Valencia coming out of Riordan High played tight end for D-III Coe College in Iowa. After transferring to CCSF, Collins convinced Valencia to redshirt, selling him on the big picture. This past season, Valencia returned to the field, on the o-line for the first time. The results were impressive.   Washington State, Oregon, Cal, Utah, Texas Tech and others all offered.

What would be more impressive is Valencia continues his o-line learning curve at the same pace now that he’s playing Pac-12 ball. Collins believes that’s entirely possible and that the “the sky is the limit.”

“You just watch an entire game film Week One to (Week 11 and) he is a completely different player,” said Collins. “He's a guy that you can see as the season goes on, and he's put in situations more often (that he’s now) not seeing for the first time … he just executed it and performed so much better

“He's going to have the confidence to play with (the Coug o-line) but he also knows that he's just beginning to scratch the surface with his abilities.”

If you’re going to be a successful offensive lineman at Washington State, you need to protect the quarterback. Not to worry, Cougar fans, Valencia can do that, said Collins.

“His biggest strength is as a pass-blocker,” Collins said. “As a result of him being so intelligent, he does a good job of handling confusing stunts that are in front of him, understanding the roles within the pass protection scheme and then physically he can execute them.”

The Cougar offensive line in 2016 was said to be one of the best nationally this season by Pro Football Focus and others. And while pass protection will always be its bread and butter under Mike Leach, Cougar running backs this past season racked up the most ground yards in the Leach era (1,634) and toted the rock 284 times vs. 197 the year before. Collins said Valencia is well-suited to helping pound out the ground yards.

“I think what will help (Valencia) is he is very smart. My understanding is a lot of the runs are put on at the line of scrimmage at Washington State, so he isn’t going to have problems dealing with that. He's going to do a real good job one-on-one, but he also does a good job at double teams and getting to the next level,” said Collins.

He’s also got the right mindset for an o-lineman under Leach and OL coach Clay McGuire.

“He's got the size, the work ethic and he is just tough -- you can't get him off the field in practice or a game. He never misses a rep. He is just a joy to coach. You never had to worry about him, ever,” said Collins.

WSU's early January enrollees: Valencia, WRs Easop Winston and Anthony White Jr., CBs Sean Harper, Isaiah Love and Zaire Webb.

RELATED: Cougs win Pac-12 battle for 4-star OT

Cougfan Top Stories