SPRING PREVIEW: D-line better, but younger

THERE IS NO such thing as "key" position battles with spring drills licking off tomorrow according to the Cougar coaches. Instead, they say, there will be competition at every single spot. The defensive line is no exception, says Wazzu co-defensive coordinator Jody Sears. The Cougars, says Sears, will be better up front -- but they will also be considerably younger.

But while Washington State on the defensive line figures to be improved over the 2008 vintage, they also figure to be young and that presents it's own set of unique challenges -- namely, consistency.

"I think we'll be better (but) I think we'll be younger," said Sears. "We've got some youth there. We do have some junior college transfers, that will be interesting to see how they fit into everything."

DE Jesse Feagin II is one to watch during spring drills. He's beefed up to 266 pounds, a gain of 16 from last year, after spending a redshirt season to concentrate on academics.

"Jesse Feagin has grown tremendously, I'm extremely proud of that young man and we're going to lean on him a little bit," said Sears.

Other starting candidates at end include Kevin Kooyman, who started six games in 2008. He's among the few this spring listed around the same playing weight as last year but Sears says it's differently packaged.

"Kooyman, he's had a good offseason in the weight room," said Sears.

On the interior, Toby Turpin went from 276 to 284 this winter and Sears says he expects to see the dividends this spring.

"Toby Turpin has had a good offseason...I know coach (Darin) Lovat had mentioned he had made some pretty good progress these last eight weeks," said Sears.

Washington State does not appear, however, to have an abundance of depth on the defensive line and the Cougs will need some of the younger players and newcomers to step up. Indeed, some guys are going to need to grow up fast if WSU is to be successful. Sears is cautiously optimistic headed into the spring session.

"We've got some freshman kids that have redshirted that show a lot of athleticism. From that perspective, I think we'll be better," said Sears.

DE Cory Mackay is one of the most intriguing of that group at defensive end -- he could conceivably even work his way inside at some point as well.

"Cory Mackay, we're going to play him at d-end and he's really excited about it. He had a good offseason. He's been in that weight room and he looks really good," said Sears.

Sears also had complimentary words for the offseason work of three more who redshirted last year, DE Adam Coerper, DT Dan Spitz and DT Anthony Laurenzi. Spitz, a defensive end listed at 244 last year, now checks in at 260 pounds and is listed as the No. 2 left side d-tackle.

Another d-lineman with plenty of buzz around him this spring is DT Bernard Wolfgramm.

Sears said Wolfgramm, coming off shoulder surgery, might not be ready to fully participate this spring. Indeed, Wulff confirmed that Wolfgramm will be held out of contact drills this spring.

"Wolfgramm is coming along...He's a good football player. We want to make sure we do a good job of easing him to the gate," said Sears.

DE Jessy Sanchez was injured almost all of last season and his participation will also be limited this spring.

As for the level of competition for starting spots and playing time, Sears says like the rest of the defense, he expects it to be fierce and at every spot.

"All of them will be (position battles). Every single one," said Sears.

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