Going 7 deep on WSU o-line rotation

THE WIDE RECEIVER rotation at Washington State, 8-10 deep, is a fairly well known concept amongst the Cougar Faithful. But how often do you hear about the offensive line rotation? The answer is you generally don’t, not until there’s an injury. But if you look at WSU over the last few years, there truly has been a top 7 rotation up front. Here’s our take on how that’s shaping up with the Cougars weeks away from the start of spring ball.

The following isn’t to say that anyone’s job – starter, backup or otherwise – is set in stone headed into spring ball. And there are additional o-linemen not listed here who could have made a splash after 15 spring practices are in the books.That said, this is our take of how things shape up with the calendar having turned to March.

First, you have three bona fide starters coming back in LT Andre Dillard, LG Cody O’Connell and RT Cole Madison. If you assume those three hold down their respective starting spots, that leaves center and right guard.

From our chair the battle to replace Eduardo Middleton at right guard figures to revolve around B.J. Salmonson and junior college transfer Robert Valencia, who has 2-to-play-2.  If we had to guess, we’d peg Salmonson as the starting right guard on Day One of spring ball.  One big question is whether Valencia can finish the spring on top of the depth chart.

In replacing Riley Sorenson at center, that battle could come down to Frederick Mauigoa and Noah Osur-Myers, with Mauigoa probably the pre-spring leader in the clubhouse based on playing experience.  But o-line coach Clay McGuire singled Myers out for praise in a recent conversation with CF.C. You also can’t rule out Salmonson in the center mix either.

So when you add that all up, that could wind up being the top 7 right there.  But not so fast. 

Based on our evaluations of Thursday Night Football plus other observations, as well as the buzz coming out of the football complex, there are (at least) two second-year freshmen who could mount significant challenge for inclusion in the top 7:  Joshua Watson (pictured above) and Keenen King.

When WSU brings in recruits on official visits, they weigh and measure them.  And Watson in the 2016 cycle had the biggest hands of anybody in the WSU signing class. He has huge hands, a big wingspan and he's also the uber-athletic type Mike Leach covets, having competed in both swimming and lacrosse in high school. Having arrived last year to WSU at 6-4, 264 pounds out of Everett's Cascade High, one question will be his weight this spring (assuming WSU releases updates heights and weights). King, meanwhile, arrived to Washington State last year as a  6-4, 324-pounder. He spent this past season trending upwards in TNF.

And one other thing to keep in mind: A depth chart is one thing but in years past there have generally been two guys who sub in and WSU tends to  shuffle more than they elevate – the No. 2 right tackle on the depth chart may be the guy who comes in at right guard when needed, rather than the guy listed as the No. 2 right guard on the depth chart. 

Last year, the two guys who subbed in most were Salmonson and Mauigoa.  The year before it was Jacob Seydel and Dillard.

Spring ball kicks off at Washington State on March 23.

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