Battle at Z: Dezmon Patmon responds to Leach zapper; draws praise from Wazzu head man for his work this spring

PULLMAN —Mike Leach dished out some tough love to wide receiver Dezmon Patmon headed into spring ball at Washington State. How has the second-year sophomore responded?

Isaiah Johnson-Mack (6-3, 218) was Gabe Marks’ backup last year at the outside Z receiver position and the leading candidate to start has played well this spring.  But Leach has also been particularly impressed with Patmon (6-4, 211).

“Dezmon’s had a really good camp,” Leach said. “He’s emerged quickly over the offseason.”

That’s quite a turnabout from only a few weeks ago, when Leach in his conference call on the eve of the spring session bluntly stated that Patmon “kinda works when he wants to” compared to the more consistent Johnson-Mack (see related story below).

So now that we’re a few weeks into the spring? Leach said he finds Patmon’s stellar performance “a little bit surprising,” but is quick to point out that he never puts a ceiling on expectations.

“We thought Dezmon would get better. He’s probably gotten better by a bigger margin than expected,” said Leach.

Patmon’s improvement is good news for Leach and particularly outside receivers coach Dave Nichol, as the ideal plan is always  to have two primary players at both outside positions, as opposed to a single starter.

Whether the snap breakdown at the Z winds up being something of an even split or is more tilted in Johnson-Mack’s favor is a long ways off from being settled. But seven days into spring, it looks like it could be pretty even.

“I think he’s doing a really good job,” Leach added of Patmon. “All the outside guys are having a great spring right now, really buying in.”

“We’ve really kinda split it 50/50 with everybody,” said Nichol. “It’s mostly been (Johnson-Mack) and Dez Patmon at the Z.”

Nichol said that junior Easop Winston (5-11, 183) has also been getting some time at the position, rounding out the top three on the depth chart.

“It’s still relatively a young group,” Nichol said, adding that the athleticism and speed of his receiving corps is fantastic, but WSU will need more than talent to compete with the other programs in the Pac-12.

“As far as ability, I’m excited,” said Nichol, before cautioning, “at this level, in our league, it’s just what’s going on between your ears, man.”

RELATED: Mike Leach with tough love for Dezmon Patmon

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