17 reasons to smile: Wulff looks to 2009

PAUL WULFF, in his season-ending chat with reporters this week, said the 2009 Cougars will be much improved. So naturally, the question begs: Name a few guys, who didn't play this year, who will make a difference. In good news for Cougar fans, Wulff couldn't limit the list to only a few.

Wulff named 17 players who didn't suit up this year -- redshirts and transfers -- whom he believes will be difference makers or have the potential to become difference makers in 2009.

Wulff made it clear that none have yet earned a starting job. And there will be considerably more competition on the Palouse than there was this season. But in looking ahead on offense, Wulff says running back James Montgomery, a transfer from Cal who was a highly touted prepster, can provide an immediate impact.

And potentially clearing the path for Monty are a couple of offensive tackles who both redshirted this season -- fourth-year junior Zack Williams and second-year Cougar Tyson Pencer.

"I think those two kids have got all the potential that you could ask for," said Wulff.

A pair of redshirt freshmen tight ends -- Skylar Stormo and Andrei Lintz -- are two others Wulff says he envisions as impact players in '09, and the same holds true for wide receiver Jeffrey Solomon, a walk on transfer from Eastern Washington this year, who will be a third-year sophomore next season.

DEFENSIVELY, THE COUGS have holes to fill on the d-line and two upperclassmen -- fifth-year senior-to-be Jesse Feagin II, who practiced but didn't play this season in order to concentrate on academics, and Bernard Wolfgramm, a defensive tackle who will be a fourth year junior -- are guys Wulff believes "will make a difference."

Alex Ellis Hoffman, who will be a third-year sophomore, is another, said Wulff. He could slide into the middle linebacker spot vacated by the graduating Greg Trent. Hoffman walked on at WSU just before the start of this season after earning his JC degree.

THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD has a plethora of potential impact players.

Safeties LeAndre Daniels and Jay Matthews, corners Terrance Hayward, Daniel Simmons and Kevin Frank, all of whom will be second-year freshmen next season, plus corner Brandon Jones, who will be a fourth-year junior in '09. All were named by Wulff as defensive backs who have a chance to become difference makers.

Defensive end Dan Spitz, a redshirt from Spokane, is another defender Wulff is eager to get on the field this spring following some winter months in the weight room.

"I think all those guys really have a chance to make some headway for our football team," said Wulff.

ONE OTHER COUGAR WHO WULFF sees as a big-time contributor -- but whose position hasn't yet been decided -- is former Eastlake High (Redmond) two-way standout Cory Mackay.

"We're still going to be somewhere in the tight end/defensive end range with Cory, (that's) probably where he's probably going to end up, with his hand down," said Wulff.

Mackay is at around 245-250 pounds, and probably about to get bigger. But his position might not be sorted out for a bit, it sounds.

"It's really not a big priority for us right now with (the position). He's just gotta get himself in the weight room and he just has to continue to get himself better as a player and not (get) too caught up in a position battle right now," said Wulff.

SOME OF THOSE listed above will also probably be held back this spring from full contact.

Wolfgramm had recent back surgery but should be ready -- though Wulff did say the coaches will be cautious and may still limit his participation. Solomon also had back surgery. "I envision both those players will both be able to participate in spring football," said Wulff.

Pencer, Wulff said, will have "a second surgery on his other shoulder this week" and will likely be limited for the spring session.

AMONG THE VETERANS who look to miss or have very limited participation during spring ball -- QB Marshall Lobbestael (knee) and RB Chantz Staden (knee).

The availability of Kenny Alfred for the spring looks good but the Cougs' center will have a "few things scoped," and may be limited, said Wulff.

There are also 3-5 players Wulff says he expects to come to Wazzu in January that Wulff said he can't announce yet. (See: http://washingtonstate.scout.com/2/817299.html)

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