Fall Camp: Day Two

PULLMAN -- What a difference a summer makes. The wide receivers have been the early stars of fall camp, seemingly bent on turning an uneven spring into a distant memory. For the second straight day, the wideouts seized the spotlight. And a true freshman once again displayed the skills that made him such a highly sought recruit -- with a full extension grab that was a thing of beauty.

As noted in Monday's report, the return of Chris Jordan and Jason Hill to the field has translated to a vast improvement from the unit's performance this past Spring. And while there were a couple of catchable drops during Tuesday's morning session, the wideouts made the grabs that are expected -- and then they made some that aren't.

Newcomer Michael Bumpus (6-0, 190 pounds) had a highlight reel catch on Tuesday, laying out in front of a defender for a nice gain.

Also in his first fall camp with the Cougs, Greg Prator (6-2, 210 pounds) displayed some serious hops that had onlookers cheering. The junior college transfer hauled in a deep ball from Alex Brink, going up over the top of a defending Karl Paymah, evoking shades of Mike Bush during the '02 season.

For his part, Bumpus said he's already feeling comfortable with the team -- one reason being he reported to Pullman back on July 20. And then there's the fact he's been spending every spare moment with his nose stuck in the playbook boning up on the Cougar offense.

The California native will be getting a visit from his mother, Renee, and his grandmother, this Thursday. "I'm an only child, so it was kind of tough on her," Bumpus said of his departure for the Palouse.

Renee has attended every single game her son has ever played. No small task considering that in high school, Bumpus was a four-sport star. In addition to excelling on the gridiron, he played baseball, basketball, and soccer.

As such, something like living two states away isn't going to prevent her from seeing her son in Martin Stadium; she already has Cougar season tickets.

WITH FALL CAMP but two days old, players aren't wasting any time showcasing their talents. With the quarterbacks and receivers making their share of plays, the secondary wasn't especially thrilled at how things were progressing in the morning session.

Enter Hamza Abdullah.

Sensing less than a full effort by his secondary-mates, the outspoken senior captain and free safety took charge and fired up the defensive backs. The very next play during one-on-one passing drills; a near interception by JC transfer Tyron Brackenridge. The play after that? A nice pick by walk-on Ryan Kensok, off of freshman quarterback Gary Rogers.

ALONG WITH ABDULLAH, Will Derting was named a co-captain on defense by the coaching staff this April. The junior said the linebackers and defensive backs have formed a bond through their dedication to the summer workouts and skelly sessions. "We don't have to go into little things anymore, we can jump right into it," said Derting.

The All-America candidate went on to say the national media attention he's receiving is flattering, but the coaches tell him how he's really doing. Derting also noted that he has every intention of returning to WSU for his senior season in 2005 (editor's note: see The Rien Long Story for insight into the credibility of such statements this early in the season).

Eddie Vickers, the 6-3, 325 pound lineman from Vancouver, has been given the OK to practice by the WSU medical staff. He was held out of the first two days of camp as a precautionary measure due to an older half-brother's cardiac history. Vickers passed an additional battery of tests and will take to the field Wednesday.

Coach Bill Doba said on Monday that quarterback Cole Morgan, safety Michael Willis, linebacker Tyson Kirksey, wide receiver Benny Ward, and defensive end Letrell Myers will grayshirt this season and enroll at WSU in January. Running back J.T. Diederichs and safety Randy Estes will go the junior college route.

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