Rookies impress

PULLMAN -- Mike Price welcomed his newest recruiting class to Pullman on Tuesday with the first practice of the 2002 season. And, as hoped, the rookies didn't disappoint.

Though it is obviously difficult to judge talent after one practice, the fledgling Cougars look to be a very athletic bunch, impressing coaches with great size and agility.

One notable difference between this class and the previous two is that it's not heavy with skill position talent. The QB in the class, Carl Bonnell, is grayshirting along with DB Wes Rainwater and LB Matt Mullenix. At running back, Lionel Arnold is redshirting due to a knee injury, making first-team JC All-American Jonathan Smith the only swine hauler in the bunch -- and even he won't be practicing for another day or two until some final credits get transferred.

And at receiver, there's just three scholarship receivers -- Flamingo Malone, Chris Jordan and Robert Franklin --- on hand until JC speed merchant Sammy Moore wraps up a transfer class and arrives next week.

Alas, there is plenty of talent at other positions.

Defensive coordinator Bill Doba appears to have found three keepers at linebacker -- JC transfer Donnie Jackson and freshmen Scott Davis from Kamiakin High in Kennewick and Brian Hall from De Sales High in Walla Walla. All three are well-built, have good instincts and, most importantly to Doba, have great speed.

Ferndale tight end Cody Boyd, one of the most coveted members of the class, wowed coaches during the morning workouts, running a 40 in the neighborhood of 4.6 and registering a vertical jump over 30 inches. He also looked to have solid hands, and at 6-foot-7, he'll be a great target for quarterbacks.

At receiver, it wasn't the three scholarship receivers mentioned above mpressed the most. Walk-on Brent Johnson invoked several comparisons to a young Collin Henderson on Tuesday. His hands are soft and he runs well.

Offensive line coach Bob Connelly has some good young talent in the trenches, particularly in Nick Milhauser and Spencer Hollison. Hollison has very good size (6-5, 270), and a body frame that looks like it could easily add on about 30 more pounds. Milhauser is a little shorter (6-3, 275), but looked great fundamentally. He has the look of a young center.

The defensive backfield has a couple of great athletes in Don Turner out of University High in Spokane, and Eric Frampton. Turner looks like he could be the best athlete in the entire class -- very smooth, quick, and he very natural during drills. Frampton is a little shorter but has more bulk, almost like a mini-Billy Newman.

Last but not least, the defensive line has two freshmen who impressed in their first workouts. Mkristo Bruce of Seattle and Adam Braidwood from Delta, British Columbia, both looked very good Tuesday. Bruce is a defensive end who, with his quickness and a little more bulk on his body, could give fits to offensive tackles. Braidwood, at 6-5, 245, already has great size for a DE, and looks mean enough to play now --- reinforcing Mike Price's prediction in March that the lad would see team in 2002.


The rookies will have two more practices Thursday before the veterans show up on Friday, which is team picture day. The first full team practice will be Saturday morning. Full-contact drills start Wednesday and the first scrimmage is August 17.

Sophomore receiver Anthony Buchanan of Spokane has decided to quit football and focus on track. He had a stellar campaign in the sprints this past spring and could be an Olympic contender comes 2004.

Tight end Russell Mizin, a starter in 2000 who failed to qualify academically last season, is expected back in the fold come Friday presuming his summer grades turn out the way he thinks they will.

Another tight end expected in town any day is JC transfer Eddie Robinson, who's also awaiting some final summer grades before suiting up.

All-time WSU basketball great Mark Hendrickson is now a Toronto Blue Jay. After five seasons in the NBA, Hendrickson decided to give his left arm a shot at pro baseball three years ago. The 6-foot-9 fire-baller compiled a 7-5 record with a 3.52 ERA for Toronto's AAA club before being called up to the bigs this week.

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