Coug fifth in Trials semi, football on tap

THE U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM on Saturday lost a freshman wunderkind but the Cougars, definitively, gained a budding star for the upcoming football season. Jeshua Anderson, the 400-meter hurdles NCAA champion, won his prelim heat Friday but Saturday, while clocking a solid 48.92, finished fifth in the semis and only the top four in each semi move on to the final to try and qualify for the Olympic team.

In sweltering conditions in Eugene where the mercury was pushing 100 degrees, Jeshua Anderson fell short in his bid for Beijing but he probably isn't done with track quite yet.

He has qualified for the 2008 IAAF World Junior Championships and was expected to compete in Bydgoszcz, Poland on July 8-13. Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Trials was Anderson's first race as a collegian that he has not won or run the fastest time.

After Poland, with the Olympics now no longer in the picture, Anderson is expected to turn his attention to preparations for the upcoming football season.

Had Anderson made the Olympics team, he would have been in Beijing smack during the Cougs' fall camp. It seemed unlikely he would have been redshirted but it did seem apparent he would have been catching up, to go from track shape to football shape and doing so until perhaps as long as a few games into the season.

Anderson will still have gains to be made, what with the football team beginning their voluntary summer workouts earlier this month, but the difference in football preparation time available is substantial as compared to what it would have been had he qualified for the Olympics team.

What it means for the football team is that the Cougs are now expected to have, at least, two potentially prolific starting wide receivers in '08 with senior Brandon Gibson, who led the Pac-10 in receiving yards last year, and Anderson in the fold.

Daniel Blackledge is also a rising receiving threat, and also in the cupboard are Michael Willis and Benny Ward, each of whom could earn significant turns this season.

Anderson, still only 19 years old, is expected to be a force in the intermediate hurdles for years to come. Many Cougar fans have the same high hopes for him on the gridiron following a true frosh season punctuated by big plays -- Anderson, who played in all 12 games, caught 12 passes but he averaged 31 yards per on those grabs.

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