Spring Ball Day 3: This Kennewick Man packs punch

PULLMAN --- Move over, <b>Will Derting</b>. If Friday's practice was any indication of things to come, there may be two All-American candidates in the Cougars' linebacking corps this season. <b>Scott Davis</b>, the third-year sophomore from Kennewick, looked like a one-man wrecking crew on the first day of full pads in this young spring season.

The 5-11, 225-pound outside linebacker intercepted one pass, recovered a fumble on the very next play, and later forced and recovered another fumble. Afterward, head coach Bill Doba offered up the ultimate understatement, "He makes plays," despite his obvious delight with Davis' work.

A three-time All-Big Nine MVP while at Kamiakin High, Davis saw considerable playing time as a backup last season. With a great nose for the ball, he recovered three fumbles and posted 29 total tackles in 11 games last season. He's expected to anchor the Cougars' strongside LB chores in 2004.

Junior cornerback Omowale Dada also drew the attention of coaches on Friday --- in very big way. He made a perfect read on a pass intended for Tramaine Murray and stepped in front to knock it away. That prompted an immediate response from defensive coordinator Robb Akey, an unabashed enthusiast for his players. The coach, who stands about 6-foot-3, nearly knocked over the 5-foot-10 Dada when he delivered a congratulatory bear hug.

Dada is competing with Alex Teems and Don Turner for a starting spot opposite Karl Paymah.

Another highlight of the day was the head-crackin' going on between the hosses and steak eaters. One-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive lines saw some great efforts on both sides of the ball, with sophomore guard Spencer Hollison and freshman defensive end Matt Mullenix turning in some outstanding play.

Overall, Doba said he's pleased with the first three days of practice, and sees the players getting more comfortable each day. "They're working hard, they're having fun, and the coaches are doing a great job," he said.

Doba has been impressed with his three quarterbacks --- Josh Swogger, Chris Hurd and Alex Brink -- , and says that all of have made some nice plays.

On Friday, Brink completed a nice pass to TE Troy Bienemann against good coverage. Bienemann was hit immediately, which prompted cheers from defensive players, but managed to hang on to the ball and came up showing it to the defensive players. The cheers then shifted to the offensive side of the field.

On defense, Doba lauded senior safety Hamza Abdullah for taking a strong leadership role. He said the youngsters on the line such as freshmen Aaron Johnson and Ropati Pitoitua have potential and are going to be a good group to watch.

His also said it's critical that the team stays healthy. With nine starters to replace on defense and seven on offense, there's no room for down time, especially in light of the fact receivers Chris Jordan (knee) and Jason Hill (shoulder) are out till August and tight end Cody Boyd (shoulder) out for another week or two.

NOTES:

Former Cougar secondary standouts Erik Coleman and Jason David were on hand for Friday's practice. Both are expected to be in NFL training camps this summer.

The Cougars have changed their spring practice schedule, moving a pair of Thursday sessions to Wednesdays. The April 1 practice is now set for March 31 and the April 8 tilt is penned in for April 7.


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