Unlikely starter says he's ready; WR leaves

PULLMAN -- Brian Danaher, the Pride of Colfax, is about to become one of those rare walk ons who climbs to center stage. With the unexpected news that senior guard Dan Rowlands' shoulder woes are so serious as to be career ending, the 6-3, 273-pound Danaher becomes a lock for the starting line up. Meanwhile, the Cougar receiving corps took yet another hit, with the announcement of a transfer.

Keith Parr Jr., formerly known as Keith Rosenberg, has decided to transfer after two injury-marred seasons with the Cougars. "He decided that he felt he would have a better chance to play somewhere else, and probably a good decision for him," said head coach Paul Wulff. Parr, from Bellevue, plans to play somewhere in the state of Washington.

His departure, coupled with injuries that kept Daniel Blackledge out of action most of August and will keep Jeshua Anderson sidelined for another month, prompted the Cougs to move running back Marcus Richmond to receiver.

"He'll do a good job for us," said Wulff.

As for Danaher, the third-year sophomore said Wednesday he's ready for the starting role. Wulff and line coach Harold Etheridge agreed.

"Obviously, I'm nervous. And for me, the way it happened, one of my good friends had to get hurt and that's too bad. I'm really going to miss Dan," Danaher said.

"But I'll be ready. I'm really, really excited for this opportunity -- it's going to be crazy … I'm filling big shoes, so hopefully I'll get it done -- I will

As he exited Martin Stadium after practice, the normal plodding noise you might hear from an offensive lineman sounded more like the light steps of a cornerback.

Wulff was quick to laud Danaher on Wednesday. "He was doing well in spring before he got injured...He came into camp and has been real steady. He still has some things to work on, but he's really progressed. He gives some good toughness in there...Can't have enough of those guys on your team. Great competitors...He's played well enough to earn that spot right now."

Etheridge was more succinct: "He's had a really good camp. He's a kid that's worked hard, and he's being rewarded for his hard work."

Wednesday's practice as a whole didn't rate the same kind of praise as Danaher.

"Emotionally we weren't very good today, but I thought we got some work done. We're still learning. This team doesn't know how to practice day in and day out...that understanding of urgency is just not there. Of knowing how to compete every single day in practice so they a chance to perform the same way on game day...When they learn that, this team will take a big step."

The defensive side of the ball had its share of highlights on Wednesday. DE Kevin Kooyman created havoc in the backfield on several plays, and got at least one "sack." Alfonso Jackson, Romeo Pellum and Chima Nwachukwu each had INTs, victimizing walk on quarterback Dan Wagner. Linebacker Cory Evans nearly added another.

Evans and fellow veteran backers Greg Trent, Kendrick Dunn and Jason Stripling have been vocal leaders in the run-up to Saturday's opener. "The great thing about having seniors is that their sense of urgency to finish out the way they want to finish with a winning season is pretty great," said linebackers coach Travis Niekamp. "They are going to try do all the little things as far as doing the right things in meetings and holding the younger guys accountable...That's the nice thing. It makes my job a little easier in that regard."

True freshman Mike Ledgerwood, a lightly recruited linebacker from Riverview High in Kennewick, had made an instant impression and will not redshirt this season. "Michael Ledgerwood, a young man out of the Tri-Cities, he's going to do a lot of good things for us—I think—this year," said Niekamp. "He came from a little 1A school and stepped right in and he's doing some good things at the Pac-10 level. Which is kind of a surprise. We knew he was going to be a good player, we didn't know it was going to be this fast."

Niekamp said defending standout Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew isn't keeping him awake at night. "Obviously Oklahoma State has a good football team, they have a tremendous tight end... But we're in the Pac-10, so every weekend we're going to see a guy that can play at that spot...so it's not anything we're losing sleep over, but he's a good player. We respect the heck out of him...We'll have our hands full."

* Running back Chris Ivory is dinged up and may play sparingly on Saturday. Logwone Mitz looks to be the No. 2 back behind Dwight Tardy on Saturday.

* Wulff said left tackle Vaughn Lesuma (back) is out for Saturday. Look for second-year freshman Steven Ayers of Bellingham to get the start.

* Cornerback Markus Dawes is questionable for Saturday.

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