WSU football: well stocked at TE; plus notes

CODY BOYD IS HEADED for an NFL training camp this summer, but Washington State assistant coach Greg Peterson is nonetheless delighted with the talent he'll be working with at tight end this spring. At the recent "Night with Cougar football" dinner in Bellevue, Peterson beamed when asked about the unit -- and the optimism extended well beyond Jed Collins, his uber-athletic senior starter.

Collins, who caught 22 passes for 306 yards and three TDs last year, is the undisputed starter for 2007. Behind him, though, is a load of potential.

Fourth-year junior Ben Woodard of Cheney and third-year sophomore Tony Thompson of Seattle will enter spring workouts later this month locked at No. 2 on the depth chart, Peterson said.

Thompson, a one-time walk on who was the team's No. 1 long snapper last season, has made big progress at tight end. "He's bulking up, has great hands and is very natural as a receiver."

Then there's JC transfer Devin Frischknecht, a January enrollee, who caught 54 passes for 763 yards and nine touchdowns at Snow College in Utah last season.

"He's going to surprise some people, a hidden gem," Peterson said. "Devin was a receiver who grew to 6-3, 250 pounds and was moved to tight end just last year. His pass catching skills are outstanding because of that history as a receiver. We got to him early, and were fortunate we did, because once other schools figured out he was a tight end they started coming after him.

"He needs to gain strength to put his hand down and develop his blocking techniques, but he's going to be a good one."

Peterson said second-year freshman Trevor Mooney, now checking in at around 250 pounds, was a scout team standout last season and has the potential down the road to be a Pac-10 star. "He has leadership skills, a tremendous work ethic, and he's developing physically. He's going to be ready for playing time this season."

Incidentally, Mooney and Collins both hail from Mission Viejo, Calif.

In addition, Peterson said Aaron Gehring, a walk on from Castle Rock, is very athletic and someone to keep an eye on at tight end.

Jason Price, a JC transfer who participated in spring drills a year ago but then ran into academic woes, is no longer in the Cougar orbit.

SPECULATION ON WHETHER academic casualty Arkelon Hall, now enrolled at College of the Seqouias just outside his hometown of Fresno, will return to WSU once his academic house is in order has been answered definitely. Hall's father, Sylvesta, a vocal advocate for Arkelon getting early playing time, told CF.C his son plans to land at another four-year school a year from now.

Hall redshirted in 2005 and was No. 3 on the depth chart last season behind Alex Brink and Gary Rogers before going down with a broken leg just prior to the season opener.

QUIP OF THE PAST MONTH: From the Seattle P-I's Jim Moore after football letters of intent were signed. "Besides having athletic ability, many of the new (WSU) recruits excel in the classroom," Moore said of the new Cougars. "Two are Eagle Scouts -- offensive linemen Steven Ayers from Sehome and Kevin Freitag from Kennedy. I don't know if they can block, but if the Cougs need to start a fire with a couple of sticks, they're good to go."

THIS 'N THAT: With Indianapolis' Super Bowl victory over the Bears, CouGreat Jason David pocketed a tidy $78,000, the amount awarded to each player on the winning team ... Belated congratulations to legendary Cougar All-American Mike Utley who was named Man of the Year by the Walter Camp Football Foundation for his extraordinary efforts to help find a cure for spinal cord injuries.

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