SPRING PREVIEW: Youthful experience at WR

HOW YOUNG ARE the Cougars at wide receiver? Among the scholarship players, there's only one senior on the entire Cougar receiving depth chart. But youth doesn't necessarily mean inexperience. At two of the three WSU receiver positions, a pair of second year players already have a combined nine starts and 26 games played.

Kevin Norrell (six starts) and Jared Karstetter (three starts) played in every game last season as true freshmen. Their combined season stats, 17 catches for 214 yards, were not, and like the entire WSU offense in '08, overly impressive.

But Karstetter made the catch in the Apple Cup that will be played over and over from now until the end of time.

"There were a lot of young players that made plays for us in the Apple Cup," said Cougars' offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy.

Norrell and Karstetter start the spring atop the depth chart at the flanker and Z spots, respectively. At X, Daniel Blackledge tops the list on the depth chart.

Note: Jeshua Anderson is running track this spring and won't be participating in spring ball and so is listed down the chart at X, as are starters who are injured such as Kenny Alfred.

Blackledge was among those Paul Wulff singled out for praise yesterday for his work in the offseason. The third year junior-to-be now checks in at a solid 6-1, 185 pounds.

"I think Karstetter and Norrell, they need to keep getting better for us. I think those two kids did some good things as freshmen, and they did some freshman things. But they both grew and matured, both of them had some good catches in those last couple ball games," said Sturdy.

Among the youth to watch, Sturdy points to Johnny Forzani and Jeffrey Solomon. Forzani is a burner but is nursing a foot injury. Solomon is also less than full strength but has drawn praise from Wulff since he transferred over from Eastern last year.

"Forzani and Jeffrey Solomon are dealing with a few injuries but both those kids are exciting players with a lot of potential," said Sturdy. "Forzani is going to go for part of (spring). He should be 100 percent in the fall."

The Cougars this spring will be looking for contributions from a pair of other veterans.

Hard hitting safety turned receiver Michael Willis, who has been bitten by the injury bug throughout his WSU career, is entering his final season at Washington State. A prep phenom at Lincoln High in Tacoma at receiver and safety, time is running out for him to make his mark at the college level. Willis is the No. 2 flanker behind Norrell headed into spring.

Anthony Houston was highly regarded by recruiting gurus in the Cougars class of 2006, rated the No. 41 receiver prospect in the nation that year. He enters the spring as the third receiver on the depth chart at Z, behind Karstetter and Solomon.


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