The Cougs’ sleeper linebacker: Nate DeRider

THE STARTING MIKE LINEBACKER at Washington State is Peyton Pelluer and there are rising ‘backers like Jahad Woods who will grab some of the spotlight this upcoming season. But don’t forget about Nate DeRider, a fifth-year senior walk on who exploded onto the scene last year for the Cougs against Cal.

When WIL Isaac Dotson got dinged up in the Cal game, DeRider (6-1, 225) trotted onto the field. An immediate impact followed.

In short order, he racked up four tackles including a sack. For good measure, he intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it 21 yards. 

It was a nice moment for a guy whose parents both went to Washington State. But it wasn’t a surprise. 

Linebackers coach Ken Wilson and special teams coach Eric Mele hold the fifth-year senior walk on in high regard, pointing to both his work ethic and production.  Wilson told CF.C earlier this spring he’s excited to get DeRider on the field more this season at ‘backer. And Mele told CF.C that when it comes to DeRider, quite simply, he can count on him to make plays all over the field.

“My love and passion for the game is through the roof,” DeRider told CF.C before spring ball.

DeRider has excelled on the Cougar kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return teams over his career. Last season, he was second on the team with seven special teams tackles.

“Mele loves a guy who will put his hand in the dirt. He just cares about your heart,” DeRider said.

Asked about Wilson, DeRider described his position coach in one word: professional.

“He treats us like professionals and he expects us to act like professionals. He does a great job preparing our group both on and off the field. He’s always on you because he wants the best for you. I really respect that,” said DeRider, who added that Wilson has helped him most in improving his tackling form and in using his hands in pass rush.

DeRider spent the spring at MIKE and he can also play WILL.  He’s also the consummate teammate according to Wilson and Mele, helping younger guys develop and playing with great effort when it would be easier to take a rep off.

“Every time I step on the field, I don’t want to let a play go by … Coach Leach always says we’re always competing for a job every day and Coach Wilson always tells us the best guys are going to play. You have to come out there with a chip on your shoulder every day, come out there with an attitude and play your butt off,” said DeRider.

Asked to pick two rising young linebackers Cougar fans should keep an eye out for, DeRider tabbed fellow Bellevue High alum Justus Rogers and Woods. “Justus is learning (the inside) and Jahad is a quick guy … I definitely think those two guys are going to be special.”

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