Who is Tatman and why are we asking?

SO WHO THE HECK is Zach Tatman, and why is one of Washington State's assistant coaches smiling when he talks about him? The short answer is that Tatman is former high school All-State linebacker and JC basketball player whose circuitous path to Pullman last summer now has him in line for some serious playing time this football season -- thanks, in part, to an unexpected vacancy on the depth chart.

Tatman, a redshirt senior-to-be from Salem, Ore., walked on to the Cougs last year after an injury-plagued stint on the hardwoods of Clackamas Community College. At 6-5 and 275 pounds, he was ticketed for offensive tackle.

But not any more.

With the unexpected departure of newly signed JC All-American Peter Tuitupou, the Cougars' depth concerns at tight end, where senior-to-be Tony Thompson is the only returning veteran, went from stable condition to life support.

Enter Tatman.

"He's going to play a lot of football for us this season," WSU recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Rich Rasmussen told CF.C Friday at the sold-out "Night with Cougar Football" dinner in downtown Seattle.

Tatman is huge for a tight end – in fact, he looks to be the third-biggest to man the tight end spot in Cougar history behind Josh Shavies and Sean O'Connor. But facts are facts, says Rasmussen: The kid is athletic, can block and was a big-time pass-catcher at Sprague High in Salem when the Olympians won the Oregon Class 4A state title in 2004. "We're glad he's here," the coach said.

As a prep senior, Tatman caught 57 passes for 855 yards. Mind you, tight end was where he moonlighted. He was an All-State performer on defense, where he posted 126 tackles and blocked three punts in '04. He named MVP of the state championship game.

After that big senior season he was invited to walk on at Oregon State but instead answered the siren call of the basketball court, where he had been a two-time all-league performer at Sprague.

And today, despite the graduation losses of Devin Frischknecht and Ben Woodard and the sudden loss of Tuitupou, Tatman is one reason why head coach Paul Wulff is breathing easier when he looks at his tight ends. "If we stay healthy, we'll be OK at tight end," the head man told the 300-plus alums gathered at Friday's dinner in Seattle.

Thompson, who saw a ton of action last season in two-tight-end sets and caught four passes for 30 yards, is the No. 1 guy.

Backing him up and also pairing with him two-tight end situations will be Tatman, special teams mainstay Aaron Gehring, and second-year freshmen Andrei Lintz of Bellingham and Skylar Stormo of Everett.

Lintz and Stormo are "young" and still developing. But each have a big upside, Wulff told Friday's dinner crowd.

NOTABLE:
  • Spring practices at WSU commence on March 26 and conclude on April 26.

  • On April 24, the Cougar coaching staff will, for the second straight year, host the "Women's Huddle Clinic," a female-only gathering aimed at getting the fairer gender up to speed on the grid game.

  • Three walk ons from last season's Cougar roster are now on scholarship: linebacker Myron Beck, kicker Nico Grasu and receiver Jeffrey Solomon.


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