Fall Camp: Day One

PULLMAN -- Scorching heat and no pads didn't slow down Washington State as the first day of fall practice was marked by intensity, and proficiency. The offense showed precision through the air as the QBs led by Alex Brink all connected with a bevy of receivers in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Not to be outdone, the D continued its mission to put any notion of weakness to rest.

You know football is back when you can clearly hear every syllable uttered by Robb Akey at any point on Rogers Field. The defensive coordinator's vocal cords got a workout, as the Cougs went through a marathon session the first day out of the blocks.

From a performance perspective, even though it was helmets only, this looked more like a mid-camp session, not opening practice.

There was considerable speed being flashed around the Palouse, and veterans and rookies alike displayed plenty of energy from start to finish. Clearly, the vets are in fine shape following a grueling voluntary summer session under the direction of WSU strength coach Rob Oviatt. And based on their energy, the rookies haven't exactly been sitting around this summer either.

One receiver garnering special praise for his performance on the day from both Doba and Brink was JC transfer Charles Dillon, a 6-1, 190 pound junior from Ventura College. Dillon made several impressive catches on the day.

Veteran returnees Chris Jordan, Michael Bumpus, Brandon Gibson, and human highlight reel Jason Hill all drew whoops and hollers Sunday in Pullman.

Brink, Gary Rogers, Arkelon Hall and Cole Morgan all looked sharp and in particular, quick off the snap. Redshirt freshman Kevin Lopina, sitting out this season following a transfer from K-State, impressed as well.

The running backs, led by DeMaundray Woolridge, Dwight Tardy and Kevin McCall, looked fast but they didn't have a lot of chances to show off today, going through drills and conditioning. Those opportunities will certainly come for the group in the days to follow. Keep an eye out for Ian Bell. A standout RB in high school, Bell has switched positions from corner to running back and looked like he hadn't missed a beat.

On the other side of the ball, the Crimson-clad defense didn't let their white-shirted counterparts steal all the glory, as sophomore Ryan Kensok and junior Husain Abdullah both had big pass-breakups during receiver drills. Junior corner Markus Dawes ended practice with a pick off Rogers, the only interception of the day.

Dawes, a 5-11, 190 pound transfer from College of the Sequoias, is expected to be one of the contenders competing with senior Don Turner and a host of others for the left-cornerback position, across the field from senior Tyron Brackenridge.

The defensive line also played up, none more so than team captain Mkristo Bruce, who had the move of the day on offensive linemen Charles Harris, dancing around the senior during pin drills, knocking the "quarterback" to the ground.

The kicking game also took the field, with Loren Langley and fellow junior Romeen Abdollmohammadi in pre-practice field goal attempts. Neither kicker looked necessarily automatic in pre-practice drills. Langley, however, was perfect in attempts during practice going 3-for-3.

Sophomore punters Darryl Blunt and Fritz Brayton continued to battle and both looked fairly consistent throughout practice, sending punts 40-to-50 yards into the waiting arms of Bumpus and Jordan.

The day didn't end for the Cougs after practice and dinner. The Cougs jumped right into special teams meetings at 8 p.m., followed by position meetings at 8:30 p.m.

Absent from practice were junior transfers B.T. Walker and Bryan Tarkington, and freshman Marcus Richmond, all three of whom are, according to Doba, in the final stages of straightening out transcript problems. Benny Ward also was not present at practice today, due to a cancelled flight but by Sunday evening had made it back to WSU. Doba is confident all four of the players will join the team soon. Tarkington is in town, but won't be able to practice until he gets the green light. Walker and Richmond are home for the time being until they get word to come on in.

Also absent due to "transcript problems" was junior tight end transfer Jason Price. Doba was unclear as to when or if Price would return to the team.

Out for the fall session is sophomore linebacker Jason Stripling, who is rehabbing a shoulder. He's expected to return mid-September.

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