Big moves on Cougar RB depth chart, WSU assistant coach Jim Mastro tells CF.C after final spring practice

IF THE SEASON started on Saturday, the Cougs would list two different running backs on top of the depth chart than they did last season, running backs coach Jim Mastro told Cougfan.com after the final spring practice.

James Williams (5-11, 192) and Keith Harrington (5-8, 194) were solid all spring long, Mastro told CF.C.

“If we played a game Saturday, James and Keith are our top two -- James No. 1 and Keith No. 2,” said Mastro.

Harrington, a fourth-year junior, missed last year’s spring session to injury. He bounced between running back and slot receiver, playing in just two games during the 2016 campaign.  But he came back with a vengeance this spring. 

“Harrington has had a great spring but the spring game just cemented things,” said Mastro, pointing to Harrington’s 143 all-purpose yards Saturday. “His protection was where he vastly improved – lights years, which is huge for us. And he obviously has great hands and he’s explosive. He can make bad plays look really good because he can make people miss in the open field. His numbers were steady all spring long and the spring game was the perfect example of the spring he had.”

Williams, meanwhile, has become more polished in multiple areas as a third-year sophomore.

“James is just a year older – he got in shape and understands the offense. He’s bigger, faster, stronger. He’s obviously a very dynamic player. He can do a lot of things with the ball and a lot of things without the ball. And he was also very good this spring in protection,” said Mastro.

The Cougs’ two fifth-year senior running backs, Jamal Morrow (5-9, 200) and Gerard Wicks (6-0, 228), combined to start every game at running back last year.  But Morrow was in a yellow jersey this spring and didn’t play in the spring game while Wicks missed time in the latter half of the spring session and also was a non-participant this past Saturday in Spokane.

And now Wicks and Morrow have something to fight for this offseason and on into fall camp.

“It’s a fluid depth chart,” said Mastro.  “But like I said, if we played a game Saturday, those are our top two guys. We’ll go into summer and fall camp and when fall camp comes, we’ll start with that depth. Those are our top two and someone’s gotta beat ‘em out. If so, someone’s going to have a pretty damned good fall camp. If not, I’m very comfortable, we’re all very comfortable, with those top two guys.”

Meanwhile, the chemistry in the running back corps couldn’t be any better,” Mastro said.

“You add a healthy Keith Harrington to the mix and then three other guys that are all a year older -- you couldn’t ask for a better situation back there,” said Mastro. “They compete all the time – they compete in the classroom, they compete in the meeting room, they compete on the practice field. And that’s what makes them better, they’re constantly competing against each other.

“And then on game day, they’re each other’s biggest fans, and I like that about them.”

Stay tuned for more of CF.C’s coverage from Tuesday’s session, the final spring practice at Washington State.

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