Cougar Notebook from Albi Stadium: Unexpected fireworks from Mount Vernon walk on

SPOKANE — Hayden Schmidt, at 5-foot-8, is one of the shortest players on the Washington State roster but by his own admission, he told CF.C on Saturday following WSU’s Crimson and Gray game, “I was pretty athletic in high school.” So after spending this past fall as a regular WSU freshman, he decided to walk on this spring.

Whether that turns into long-term engagement on Alex Grinch’s Speed D remains to be seen, but facts are facts:

Not only did the 170-pound Mount Vernon High product get into Saturday’s scrimmage at Albi Stadium, he snared the only two interceptions of the 95-pass afternoon. Both were off backup quarterback Anthony Gordon. One was a diving, jumping, highlight-reel effort near the goal line.

Fellow DB Hunter Dale, who will have no trouble making the final fall roster, made no secret of what he thought about Schmidt’s spectacular pick, greeting him like he’d just secured a Rose Bowl victory (photo above).

Asked if the size and speed of the Pac-12 was intimidating when he first stepped onto the practice field this spring, Schmidt smiled and said you just “go out there and compete your hardest.”

ANOTHER ROOKIE DB LED the way in tackles on Saturday. Safety Sean Harper posted six total. He enrolled at WSU in January following two seasons of JC ball.

“It’s very fast, more so than JUCO,” he said of his transition this spring to a Power5 school. “I’ve got to work everyday in practice to get my technique right.”

Harper, from Hartwell, Ga., originally signed with WSU in 2015. He’s currently running with the 2s behind Jalen Thompson.

His goal for this offseason is straight forward, he said: “Just get better and work everyday to be what the coaches want me to be.”

COUGAR RECEIVER KYLE SWEET had high compliments for two of the younger guys in the receiving corps — Brandon Arconado and Easop Winston — following Saturday’s scrimmage. And he singled out linebacker Frankie Luvu for a high honor. You can catch it all in this brief video interview:

IN STREETS CLOTHES: Three Cougs were on the Gray sidelines in jerseys but not in pads: DBs Darrien Molton and Skyler Thomas and RB Gerard Wicks.

'OLD TIMERS' OUT IN FORCE: There was no shortage of former Cougar footballers in the stands and on the sidelines at Albi on Saturday. Among them were Kache Palacio who just re-signed with the Seattle Seahawks after spending time on the practice squad last season. He told CF.C that the Hawks see him at middle linebacker and rush end -- and, if they so desire, he'll take another turn at fullback like last year if they want him to ("I catch the ball pretty well," he noted.) Palacio, who mentioned that "I love WSU," was giving Cougar receiver Robert Lewis a hard time after the game because of the pint-sized wideout's popularity with young autograph seekers.

Gabe Marks, who expects to hear his name called in next week's NFL draft, was also at the spring finale. So were River Cracraft, Sam Flor, Carlos Freeman, Scott Pelluer (whose son Peyton cracked a few heads over the course of the afternoon), Jack Thompson, Paul Sorensen, Jed Collins and Alex Brink. Those latter three will be writing columns this week for CF.C about what struck them most from the game.




GABE MARKS (CF.C/James Snook)

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