Receivers making hay in early spring going

PULLMAN -- With two workouts in the books this spring season, it's clear Bill Doba's Cougar footballers are hellbent on getting back to a bowl game. Their first four hours of practice -- two hours each on Tuesday and Wednesday -- can be characterized by a single word: Intensity. On both sides of the ball the players are focused and workmanlike. The receiving corps, led by All-America candidate Jason Hill, has been especially interesting to watch.

Hill and pass-catching mates Brandon Gibson, Chris Jordan, Michael Bumpus and Finas Rabbhave all made consistently impressive catches. But none more so than Hill, who looks leaner and more driven than ever.

The record-setter from San Francisco, who opted to return for his senior season rather than opt early for the NFL, has nabbed virtually every pass sent his way this week. With great footwork and soft hands, he's setting the bar high for the entire receiving unit.

In 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 drills yesterday Hill and quarterback Alex Brink were as close to automatic as it gets.

Gibson, a sophomore, has also performed well so far despite nursing a dinged up elbow. He's working hard to crack the starting line up, hustling every play and making few mistakes.

Jordan, a senior-to-be who had seven starts last season, has literally layed out for passes several times this week, including one catch Tuesday that had him spread eagle in the endzone, clutching the football.

Fan-favorite Bumpus has been the only player to field punts so far this spring, and has done an admirable job. At receiver, he's showed off great speed and agility, but has dropped a number of balls.

The 6-6 Rabb, a JC transfer who enrolled at WSU in January, has also been turning heads out on the flanks. With his height and swift wheels, he stands out in a crowd. Rabb has been burning coverages, often running down the line 5-to-6 steps ahead of the corner. Considered a natural red zone target, he's really looking like a solid deep threat for the Cougs as well.

ON THE DEFENSIVE SIDE of the ball, where the Cougars are looking for two starters to replace Alex Teems and Wale Dada on the corners, seniors Tyron Brackenridge and Don Turner, and sophomores Ian Bell, Ryan Kensok and Courtney Williams have all been running 7-on-7 drills against the talented receiving crops and generally have stacked up well.

On Wednesday, in what could be considered one of the finest shows of athleticism this spring, Kensok, a 5-9, 160-pound walk-on from Spokane's Gonzaga Prep, made a leaping interception over the head of Bumpus and drew rave reviews from his defensive commrades.

Secondary coach Ken Greene noted that the arrival of three new cornerbacks in the fall could shake up the mix in the secondary.


After a day off Thursday, the Cougars return to practice Friday and then don full pads for a scrimmage Saturday morning.

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