WSU player suspended, RB quandary looms for Cougs

<b>WITH SPRING WORKOUTS set to begin in two weeks, Washington State's already-paper-thin backfield just entered red alert territory with news that No. 2 tailback Kevin McCall has been suspended after being arrested by Pullman Police on rape allegations.

"We will allow the legal process and Student Conduct process to run their course but currently, he has been suspended from all football related activities," WSU sports information director Rod Commons said this afternoon.

Many people in and around the Washington State program were shocked at the news -- McCall has the reputation of being an exemplary citizen.

The alleged incident took place Sunday night in a campus dormitory, the Daily Evergreen reported today.

With McCall on ice, the Cougars will have one scholarship tailback --- Jerome Harrison --- in uniform when spring practices commence on March 22. In fact, they'll have only two scholarship running backs in camp, the other being blocking back Jed Collins.

WSU finds itself low on running backs for several reasons:

* Senior-to-be Allen Thompson, scheduled to graduate in May, announced in January that he will forgo his last year of eligibility;
* The Cougars took no high school running backs in the recruiting classes of 2002 and 2003; and
* The only prep back from the recruiting class of 2004, J.T. Diederichs, didn't qualify academically and is now in junior college.

The development lends grist to the previously existing likelihood that two prep running backs in the newest Cougar recruiting class, incoming freshmen DeMaundray Woolridge and Dwight Tardy, will get very long looks when they arrive on campus this summer.

It is simply far too early to tell what, if any, possible adjustments could be made at the running back position. Ian Bell, another member of the 2004 recruiting class, shined in practice for the Cougars at defensive back this past season but WSU does not appear to be considering moving him to shore up the running back corps. The 180-pounder from Woodland Hills, Calif., has 4.49 speed in the 40 and piled up more than 2,000 career yards and 30 TDs as a prep back. Lorenzo Bursey is penciled in at the slot position for the Cougs but gained over 1100 yards as a freshman JC running back for West LA in 2004. He also rushed for 2,471 yards and 37 TDs his final two years in high school. Bursey clocked a 40 time of 4.4 as a prep senior although his quickness and ability to make cuts at top speed are more his prime assets than is sheer speed.

The WSU running backs who signed with the Cougs in the three year period from 2002-04:

Jerome Harrison (senior-to-be)
J.T. Diederichs (currently at Dixie State JC)
Chris Bruhn (completed eligibility in '04)
Jermaine Green (completed eligibility in '03)
Jonathan Smith (completed eligibility in '03)
Lionel Arnold (did not play for WSU)

(Although star running backs in high school, Steve Dildine, Scott Davis and Bell were all recruited to play defense for Washington State.)

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