Rogers, Hall, Morgan awaiting chance at QB U

PULLMAN -- They play football's glory position, but for the time being the limelight is just a memory for former high school stars Gary Rogers, Arkelon Hall and Cole Morgan. The three occupy the third, fourth, and fifth spots on Washington State's quarterback depth chart --- roles that consist of leisurely game days and cram-session practices. Patience is their virtue. The closest they get to center stage is warming up in practice a few feet from Alex Brink and Josh Swogger.

At a school once dubbed "Quarterback U" by Sports Illustrated, it is no surprise the marquee job would have solid contenders vying for the position.

But Washington State seems to have an embarassment of riches behind center.

Rogers, a second-year freshman, is the most experienced of the group lining up behind Brink and Swogger. He's the only one with game-day experience, having come in for several hand-offs against Grambling two weeks ago. Both Hall and Morgan are first-year freshmen who are redshirting this season.

A year ago, when Swogger was lost for the season with a foot injury, Rogers' redshirt hung in the balance as he became the No. 2 QB behind Brink. In the process, he got a ton of practice reps with the first and second units.

Brink stayed healthy, so Rogers didn't have to burn his redshirt, and has three seasons of eligibility after this one.

That unexpected move into the No. 2 spot proved invaluable when spring workouts arrived. Rogers really started to click, drawing repeated praise from head coach Bill Doba.

Still --- barring unforeseen injuries, meltdowns or an early NFL departure --- the sophomore Brink looks to be the Cougars' starter through the 2007 season. Swogger, a junior, will leave after 2006. So unless Rogers challenges for the starting job before then, 2008 looks like his year. He will be a senior then.

No matter.

"I prepare like I'm the starter now," Rogers said. "It makes me better to prepare like I'm starting. I have to get my mind ready like I'm going to play."

After the Grambling game he said he was just itching to air one out, but knew that wasn't going to happen with the Cougars' big lead.

"Even though all I did was handoff, it was a great experience," Rogers said after a recent practice. "I was able to get my feet wet. Getting out there in that atmosphere was great."

Rogers came to WSU from Kamiak High in Mukilteo, Wash., where the 6-foot-6, 228-pounder was widely considered one of the top 30 signal calling prospects in the nation. With his size and arm strength he is a quarterback straight out of central casting. Jack Thompson, WSU's legendary Throwin' Samoan, says Rogers is built like Drew Bledsoe and throws one of the prettiest balls he's ever seen on the Palouse.


HALL AND MORGAN are both first-year freshmen, though Morgan is a year older after grayshirting last season.

While the statrting line up may be far off for them, they nonetheless play a critical role for the Cougars. Hall and Morgan run the scout team, meaning they have to loosely learn every upcoming opponent's offense so they can mimic it in practice.

"Both are pretty raw, but they're doing a great job," says WSU quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach.

As the No. 3 man, Rogers doesn't work on the scout team, instead getting most of his limited practice-time snaps behind Brink and Swogger with the first- and second-string offense.


Running the scout team means going face-to-face with the Cougars' traditionally vaunted defense.

"Being on the scout team helps me out a lot," says Hall. "My reads are getting better, adjusting to [the defense's] speed. Playing against a Pac-10 defense is a lot different from high school."

From all appearances, it appears Hall is the fourth-string QB and Morgan the fifth.

The 6-1, 224-pound Hall came to WSU from Edison High School in Fresno, where he threw for 56 TDs and nearly 5,000 yards over his last two seasons. He was rated the No. 16 prep QB prospect in the nation by last year. He doesn't have Rogers' size, but his arm is just as strong. During Tuesday's practice, a play broke down and everything ground to a full stop, including Hall. But the receiver kept on running.

Hall, standing flat footed, noticed the streaking Carlton Coard, took one step and launched a rocket that traveled 50 yards in the air.

Rosenbach has been working with Hall primarily on his release, which has an extra "hitch" that causes a slight delay in his throwing motion.

The 6-2, 186-pound Morgan is another local product. He originally signed with WSU in the same recruiting class as Rogers, but delayed enrollment until this past January, effectively buying himself another year of eligibility. He came to WSU from Ballard High in Seattle, where he led a star-studded team that included Cougar teammate Tony Thompson and two JC standouts that WSU is hoping to one day have in uniform: running back J.T. Diederichs and defensive back Keauntea Bankhead. Over his junior and senior seasons Morgan passed for 47 TDs and more than 3,300 yards.

"Gary and I have strong arms. Cole's arm is okay, but he's better at reading coverages and things like that," says Hall.

NOW THAT THE Cougars' non-conference schedule has passed, the odds are even smaller that Rogers will get to play anytime soon. So he will continue to put in his time and wait his turn, just like the two quarterbacks behind him.

"My role for now is to run the scout team and give our defense a good look," says Hall. "Next year will be my turn to play."

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