FALL CAMP DAY 1: Derting's close shave; RBs shine

PULLMAN -- Depth at running back -- a major concern this past spring -- got a big boost Sunday with three new faces in the backfield who weren't there in March. The sounds of football rang out across the heretofore quiet WSU campus with the Cougar football team kicking off its first practice of summer training camp. On the defensive side of the ball, honors candidate and middle linebacker Will Derting stood out not only for his return to full health, but also for the mohawk he's sporting.

Highlight plays during the Sunday morning session, which ran about two hours, included long catches by running backs DeMaundray Woolridge and Kevin McCall.

Woolridge (5-9, 215) is a freshman from Keller, Texas, who is expected to compete with fellow newcomer Dwight Tardy (5-11, 202) of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., for playing time this fall behind starter Jerome Harrison. Both looked sharp on Sunday.

The catch by McCall, approximately 45-yards, was contested by linebacker Brian Hall, who threw his hands in the air and shouted as McCall wrestled the ball away and continued downfield. Hall looks to be healed up from the neck stinger which has shelved the middle 'backer since the last half of the '04 season.

The practice was a welcome experience for McCall, who had been suspended from the team for the previous five months after legal problems. Coach Bill Doba recently reinstated the redshirt sophomore.

More running back depth will come this season from second-year freshman Jacob McKinney, a 6-2, 260-pounder from Puyallup. He has moved to fullback from tight end.

Defensive back Eric Frampton continues to impress, with a nice break up on a pass intended for Marty Martin. The secondary was well represented during the opening practice, as Ryan Kensok also turned in some highlight reel material. Giving away six inches, Kensok broke up what would have been a long pass play to receiver Benny Ward.

Practices continue through the first day of class when the schedule will be reworked to accommodate class schedules. Tuesday, the players will don pads for the first time and two-a-days start Friday.

SENIOR CAPTAIN and All-America candidate Will Derting said there's an air of optimism this fall, coming off its first losing season in four years, after three straight 10-win seasons were erased by last season's 5-6 effort.

"I know nobody on our team was satisfied last year," Derting said after Sunday's session concluded.

Derting went on to say said last season will serve as a memory and motivation factor, but the team will not let it overshadow its focus on this season.

"I think everyone is looking forward to the season," he said. "We're not going to look to the past, we want to make our own past."

The optimism was echoed by fellow senior captain and tight end Troy Bienemann as he discussed his final summer on the Palouse.

"First and foremost, we want to get to a bowl game," said Bienemann.

Doba, while admitting he's never heard a coach in the preseason not think their team has what it takes to run the table, said his players had taken summer preparation very seriously and looked good.

As it is with any attempt to reverse trends, a first step is required. As the Cougs will try to take that first step back toward a winning record in the season opener September 1 against Idaho, Sunday provided the opportunity for the first step in this year's training camp.

The team spent time in technique teaching positional drills, punting packages and even some skelly drills.

Doba said the pace of summer practices, especially the initial ones, provides for the much needed focus on the basics.

"We can walk and talk, teach something," Doba said.

Doba also made note of the fact that caution is a top priority as players are practicing in helmets and shorts only during the first week.

For more on Michael Willis making his long awaited debut, paperwork slowing up others, four veterans leaving the program plus the injury report, use this link:

Lots of faces coming and going


PRACTICE SCHEDULE THROUGH AUGUST 22

MONDAY, AUG. 8
9AM Practice (helmets only, rookies report at 9AM, full team practice 9:45AM)

TUESDAY, AUG. 9
9AM Practice (shoulder pads and helmets, full team practice 9:45AM)

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 10
9AM Practice (shoulder pads and helmets, full team practice 9:45AM)

THURSDAY, AUG. 11
9AM Practice in full pads (full team practice at 9:45AM)

FRIDAY, AUG. 12
9AM Practice in full pads
7:30PM Practice in full pads

SATURDAY, AUG. 13
2:30PM Scrimmage No. 1 (with a walk-thru at 10:30AM)

SUNDAY, AUG. 14
10AM Practice (helmets only)
7:30PM Practice (full pads)

MONDAY, AUG. 15
2:30PM Practice (full pads)

TUESDAY, AUG. 16
10AM Practice (helmets only)
7:30PM Scrimmage No. 2

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 17
2:30PM Practice (full pads)

THURSDAY, AUG. 18
10:30AM Practice (helmets only)
7:30PM Practice (full pads)

FRIDAY, AUG. 19
2:30PM Scrimmage No. 3

SATURDAY, AUG. 20
10:30AM Practice (helmets only)
7:30PM Practice (full pads)

SUNDAY, AUG. 21
2:30PM Practice

MONDAY, AUG. 22
Classes begin so most practices will commence at 4PM


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