Frampton: Summer seeing '06 Cougs come alive

PULLMAN - At 8 a.m. Tuesday, many WSU students were at their parents' house, possibly just waking up, but more likely gaining just enough consciousness to flip to the cool side of the pillow. Eric Frampton and his teammates didn't share that luxury. The senior strong safety had already hit the weight room and was now running conditioning drills with a weighted vest in the 76-degree morning heat.

When you're going full tilt with the extra weight strapped on, minutes can seem like days.

"It goes about 20 minutes, but it seems like forever," said Frampton, a former all-league player from Oak Grove High in San Jose, Calif.

When the conditioning was done, Frampton and teammates returned to the weight room for more work.

Intense workouts are what Frampton credits for his defensive prowess. He led the team in tackles last season with 87 (52 solo) but his own intensity has long been on display out on the Palouse.

The Cougars leading tackler in 2005, Frampton logged 87 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss, a sack, an interception, eight pass break-ups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Intense workouts are what Frampton credits for his defensive prowess, earning praise from coach Bill Doba who called him "an aggressive kid." He led the Cougs in tackles last season as a junior with 87 (52 solo), including seven against Washington with one tackle for loss, one sack and a pass break up. His own intensity has been on display at WSU long before that.

During the 2004-05 season, he recorded at least one tackle in all 11 games, including five against USC. As a redshirt freshman, he collected weekly team honors such as Scout of the Week and also the yank-down stop on the opening kickoff in WSU's 28-20 win over No. 5 Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl. But this summer, the workouts he and Cougar teammates are doing are more intense than any year since he's been in Pullman, Frampton said.

FOR YEARS, WASHINGTON STATE has had an extraordinarily high number of scholarship players and key walk-ons stay in Pullman for voluntary workouts over the summer months -- usually about 90 percent or better. This year might be the best attended summer of all. It might also be the most grueling.

"This might be the hardest offseason that we've done so far," he said. "We've got newer drills, longer drills. We've got the speed work, the footwork stuff, and a lot more running."

AFTER LAST YEAR when WSU lost five games by four points or less, the Cougars had the kind of minor conflicts that come with any football team that goes 4-7 and misses the bowl season, Frampton said. But this summer has already gone a long ways to ensure the 2006 season is not a repeat of '05.

Senior strong safety Eric Frampton says this summer may be the most intense since he's been at Washington State. "Everybody's coming together," he says.

"Right now were in a jelling mode," he said. "Everybody's coming together. Everybody's starting to focus and see what we have to do. Just from watching film, we can see how fast (Auburn's) offense is. Being a defensive player, we have to have a swagger and an attitude going into the game.

"(Barriers) are being broken down and it's more (about) team, and focusing as a team."

Frampton said it's that Cougars' quest to win, as a team, that keeps his early-morning alarm set.

"When you get out there in front of the thousands of people, your adrenaline starts pumping," said Frampton. "It's a whole other level. You never really think about it until you walk out on the field and you're like, 'Wow, this atmosphere is crazy.'"

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