Second session: The Wolf cometh

PULLMAN -- New faces provided new hope for WSU football during the day's second practice of fall camp. After projected starters and second-teamers practiced Tuesday morning at the Rogers Field practice facility, true freshmen, JC transfers and lower-tier reserves took the field in the afternoon. Paul Wulff was hesitant to single out individuals, but he made an exception for Bernard Wolfgramm.

Bernard Wolfgramm, the junior defensive tackle (listed on the roster as a defensive end but he's more a DT and seems destined for the 3-technique spot) from the College of San Mateo, Calif., caught Wulff's eye in a hurry.

"It's only one practice, but you can definitely tell there's a lot of ability," Wulff said.

Heralded JC running back transfer Chantz Staden looked shifty and quick. Wulff said several players may change positions this fall, and with a logjam at running back, Staden could see some or all of his playing time at wide receiver.

Wulff has said freshman Cory Mackay -- the wide receiver the Cougars plucked from Washington after he originally verbaled to the Huskies out of Eastlake High -- might wind up at tight end.

Mackay looks like a tight end at 6-4 and 246 pounds, but he runs well and made a difficult, outstretched catch during practice.

Another freshman wideout, Jared Karstetter from Ferris, turned heads with his pass catching.

Karstetter badly beat cornerback Tali Talakai, a JC walk-on who joined the team last year, to haul in a pass from Dan Wagner.

Highly regarded freshman cornerback Kevin Frank recorded a nifty interception of one of Wagner's passes.

Wulff said Wagner is a candidate for the punting job if Reid Forrest's recent ankle surgery keeps him on the sidelines at the start of the season. Wagner vowed earlier in the day to be ready by the opener.

Wulff said the combination of steamy temperatures and the usual problems associated with the first day of practice -- "They're thinking too much" -- had an impact on both workouts, but he stressed, "It was a very productive day for the first day.

"Where I was very surprised on both sides of the ball is there was quite a bit of carryover from the spring. Not only carryover from the spring, but you could tell they worked hard in the summer."

After one more day of split-squad practices Wednesday in helmets only, with the top returning vets shifting to the afternoon workout, the team will add shoulder pads and practice as one unit for morning-only practices Thursday and Friday. Saturday is the first practice in full pads, and Sunday is the first day with two practices.

The development of the 6-foot-3, 264-pound Wolfgramm could be crucial for the Cougars, who are suspect for talent and depth on the defensive line.

That depth took two more hits Tuesday afternoon.

After announcing last week that he expected all veterans and recruits to be academically eligible by Tuesday, Wulff said junior defensive tackle Josh Luapo is ineligible because he has yet to earn his JC degree, and senior defensive end Jesse Feagin will redshirt due to academic ineligibility.

Wulff said Luapo might not enroll until January even if he does become eligible in the next few weeks. Wulff hinted that he may bring in another JC defensive lineman if Luapo is not activated.

HOME AGAIN: Wulff, a standout center for the Cougars in the 1980's, said he thoroughly enjoyed his first day as coach at his alma mater.

"There's definitely some feelings inside that go through you," Wulff said. "I come to work, and it really does feel like home.

"It feels so comfortable, yet it feels like a lifetime ago I was here. So much has happened.

"I can't explain the feelings yet. I think I'm still trying to get it, but it's definitely not a normal feeling I would expect or I have ever felt before."

Wulff, hired in December to replace Bill Doba, had spent his entire 15-year coaching career at Eastern Washington. He compiled a 53-40 record in eight years as head coach.

MORAL SUPPORT: Even though they practiced for 2 hours in the morning, perhaps a dozen veterans watched all or part of the 2-hour afternoon practice. Wulff said the vets -- including the likes of Brandon Gibson, Andy Mattingly, Greg Trent, Devin Giles, A'i Ahmu, Markus Dawes, Dwight Tardy, Matt Mullenix and Tony Thompson -- did so on their own.

"I think that's very good," Wulff said. "That's the type of thing we're trying to develop."

Jeffrey Solomon who originally signed with Wulff at Eastern, is walking on at Washington State this year. Like James Montgomery and Brandon Jones, Solomon will have to sit out a season to satisfy NCAA tranfer rules but keep his name in mind for 2009. He's a talented receiver who came out of Ingraham High back in the class of 2006.

  • Thompson, the son of Cougar quarterback legend Jack Thompson, is sporting a Mohawk haircut -- much to his father's chagrin. "He hates it," Tony said with a smile.

  • Prize recruit: The most impressive newcomer on the field Tuesday? No question -- Sam Wulff, the coach's 2-year-old son. Sam, who is approximately the same size as a regulation football, showed off a strong arm while tossing a miniature football at the end of the morning practice. The kid scrambles well, too. No word yet on a pending letter of intent. An early prediction: It won't be with the Huskies.

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