Future looking bright for Cougs

PULLMAN -- It's easy to see how far the program at Washington State has come these days. The Cougs replaced a starting quarterback and all three starting receivers yet rank No. 12 nationally in passing offense. On defense, only two starters returned, but the Cougars sit at No. 16 in the nation in total defense. As the program's next generation of playmakers is working toward the day they can step up as well, it's clear there's a whole lot to look forward to in the years to come.

Barring a debilitating run of injuries, all but a trio of true freshmen will redshirt this season. But it won't be that long a time before many will be making their impact felt out on the Palouse. And of course, three of them -- Loren Langley, Michael Bumpus and Jed Collins -- already have made their presence known.

In is his second year on the Washington State staff, graduate assistant coach Don Bartel works with the scout team and also on special teams. Bartel talked with Cougfan.com about the first-year players, lending insight on the development of the 2004 freshman class.

Fritz Brayton (P, 6-2 171) – "He is going to be a great punter for us. He works really hard on his game."

Gary Rogers (QB, 6-6 228) – "With Riley leaving this has forced Gary to step up his game a little bit and he has done well. He has the perfect build for a QB and is working on his preparation techniques."

Kipp Curtis (WR, 6-1.5 195) – "We knew when we recruited him that he was an extremely hard-worker and he has not disappointed us. He is constantly improving."

Ryan Kensok (CB, 5-8 169) – "Simply put, Kensok is a playmaker. He will play any position on the field, he never wants to come out of drills or come off the scout team. It was tough to see him get injured in the U of I game."

Ian Bell (CB, 5-9 185) – "He comes from the same vein as Kensok. He will do anything asked of him for the scout team. He brings a lot to the table."

Blake Ferguson (WR, 5-8 175) – "He has had a tough go of it. He broke his thumb in one of the early practices. He showed up early and is extremely willing to learn each day. When he was hurt he missed the fundamental individual time, but he spends a lot of time practicing his skills on his own – cuts, plants, shifting weight, hand-placement, et cetera."

Carl Shaw (WR, 6-3 193) – "He is another guy that wants to do whatever possible to help the team out. He has a great burst of speed."

Alex Hamill (LB, 5-11 196) – "He is a pure football player and loves the scout team. Going against the first team is where he expects to be playing. He doesn't like to come out, a true competitor."

Steffan Blume (LB, 6-0, 215) – "He is a real competitor. With his desire he will be very, very good."

Dan Rowlands (OL, 6-4 284) – "He is tough and extremely competitive. Does not like to lose in any of the drills. He goes after each drill with top-notch intensity."

Eddie Vickers (OL, 6-3 335) – "He's a great athlete with a huge upside. He is one of the most athletic big men that I have ever seen."
Note - Vickers arrived this fall at 358 pounds. He's down to 335, with a goal of 315, according to offensive line coach George Yarno.

Andy Roof (OL, 6-3 309) – "He is a tough, mean, and strong kid."
Note - Coach Yarno said although Roof arrived late due to NCAA Clearinghouse issues, he is progressing nicely. Yarno went on to say he expects Rowlands, Vickers, and Roof to be solid contributors for four years at Washington State.

Adam Hineline (DT, 6-1 278) – "He is getting acclimated to the change from high school still. He is really starting to figure out the tempo of the Pac-10 level, and will be a solid contributor for us."

Matt Eichelberger (DT, 6-3 342) – "The Iceberg! This kid is awesome. He is a very smart football player. He works extremely hard and hates to lose. Matt brings his lunch-pale to practice everyday he is ready to go."
Note - Coach Bill Doba previously noted Eichelberger has dropped more than 30 pounds since he arrived at WSU.

Colin Donovan (DT, 6-6 284) – "He wants to please whenever he is out there. He hurt his knee pretty bad recently, but you would have never known because he is so tough. He simply blew it off."
Note - Donovan is out 8-12 weeks with a torn medial collateral knee ligament.

Mike Graise (DE, 6-3 206) – "He has been hurt since the season started (so unfortunately we haven't been able to see much of him.")

Jason Roberts (DE, 6-4 224) – "He is awesome, and is another great playmaker. He never feels as if he can't win. His confidence is high."
Note - Roberts will miss the next 3-4 weeks with a knee injury.

Three true freshmen seeing action this year all perform in some capacity on special teams under Bartel's watchful eye. His thoughts on each of them..

Michael Bumpus (WR, 5-11 174) – "He is one of those guys that is anxious to get into the game. He is our punt returner and it is a matter of when he'll break a punt return, rather than if he will break one. Bumpus is a playmaker and his confidence builds everyday in practice. On the sidelines he is one of those guys you want to be around because his passion for football and winning really shows up. I love his confidence."

Loren Langley (K, 5-7 146) – "You know what, Loren is doing alright. He's got a great leg and a lot of potential. He is as competitive as they come."

Jed Collins (LB, 6-2 241) – "He is a proven winner. In high school he only lost one game. The way he carries himself on and off the field says a lot about his confidence. He is just awesome."

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