Coug OL B.J. Salmonson is focused on just one thing this spring

THERE WAS A time when B.J. Salmonson, coming out of a Class 1A high school, was thrilled simply to be on scholarship at a Pac-12 school. But those days are long in the rear view mirror. As the fifth-year senior goes through his final spring football session at Washington State, there is one goal and one goal only.

And that is to line up this season with the starting o-line.  Salmonson, who got his first career start last season at Oregon State, is competing at right guard this spring primarily with JUCO transfer Robert Valencia. And while the starting job battle could stretch into fall camp, Salmonson is a man on a mission this spring.

“My goals are to prove why I belong as a starter. I’ve been working for this for five years now. I’m ready to prove that I’m ready to start. Obviously I know the playbook, I know the schemes we’re trying to run. It’s really just all about technique and doing the little things correctly,” said Salmonson.

Salmonson came out of Everson’s Nooksack Valley High in Whatcom County, about five miles as the crow flies from the Canadian border.  He says o-line coach Clay McGuire’s biggest influence on his game has been the fundamentals.

“I think he’s really helped me clean up the technique, I came from a small high school … so cleaning up my technique, he’s really helped me along the way with that.  Pad level was a really big thing for me,” said Salmonson.

He’s reminded of the proper pad level every time he squares off against Garrett McBroom, the d-lineman Salmonson identified as the one he least enjoys going up against in practice.

“Garrett McBroom, he has really good hands, he knows how to use them and he can just read you really well,” said Salmonson.

Salmonson grayshirted and then redshirted at WSU, so he’s been around long enough to have picked up nuggets along the way from some old Cougar o-linemen. He named two who were particularly key to his learning curve: Gunnar Eklund and Elliott Bosch.

“From Gunnar, I learned intensity. Obviously you’re doing the same thing over and over again. Every guy can do that but you’re got to bring the intensity with it.  And Elliott Bosch was a great technician. I’m obviously a smaller guy (6-4, 300) and he was a smaller guy (6-4, 280) and I’m trying to master the technique like he did,” said Salmonson.

Any young o-linemen who have turned his head this offseason?

“Frederick Mauigoa. I work out with him in the weight room and as a freshman he was already incredibly strong. He really wants to get better and learn, and he shows that on the field,” said Salmonson.

As for who would win a 100-yard dash among the o-linemen, and who would come in last, Salmonson had an immediate answer.

“Andre Dillard would win. He’s a fast guy.  Last?  I’m going to say Cody O’Connell, he’s a big guy” Salmonson laughed.

Finally, where does Salmonson see himself 10 years from now?

“Honestly, I don’t know … I already have my degree in criminal justice and I’m going for another degree in social sciences. I’m looking at border patrol, customs, obviously the police is another option,” he said.
We asked Salmonson what advice he would offer young o-linemen coming into Mike Leach’s Air Raid. He said there is no substitute for hard work and a willingness to do anything to help the team.  “You pretty much try to find any way to get in. I played tight end when we had the two-man set, I played special teams, you just have to find a way to get on the field at any cost,” said Salmonson.

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