Travis Long to be Most Watched WSU Freshman?

WITH BERNARD WOLFGRAMM rehabbing from his back injury and Cory Mackay out following his horrible car accident, expect Spokane's Travis Long to quickly earn the label of Most Watched Incoming Freshman when Washington State opens football practices on August 9.

The Cougar defensive line is thin and the 6-5, 245-pound Long could offer instant help at end. He's got the size, agility, motor and smarts to play right away. He also has a frame that eventually could add enough bulk to play at tackle.

Earlier this summer at a Cougar golf event, head coach Paul Wulff –- a huge proponent of redshirting his rookies -- was asked if any of the incoming troops might play right away. The first words out of his mouth were these: Travis Long.

Three of the Cougars' defensive line mainstays last season have graduated: Fevaea'i Ahmu, Matt Eichelberger and Matt Mullennix. Now with the Wolfgramm and Mackay injury situations, developing line depth figures to be a major focus during August workouts.

As it stands right now, only two members of the Cougars' defensive line -– senior-to-be Kevin Kooyman, an end from Maple Valley, Wash., and junior-to-be Toby Turpin, a tackle from Los Alamitos, Calif. -– have seen game time in a Cougar uniform. Kooyman started six games last season and Turpin four. Turpin was singled out in October-November by Wulff for showing late season improvement and earning a starting job.

Long, from Gonzaga Prep, was co-defensive player of the year last season, along with fellow incoming Coug Chris Mastin, in the Greater Spokane League and an all-classifications All-State choice. He also was a standout on G-Prep's basketball team, which made a nice run in the state 4A tournament.

What other youngsters may contend for early playing time?

"Once you get the kids in camp and in pads we'll have a better sense, but there are several who could be in the mix right away," Wulff said at the King County Cougar Club Golf tourney.

That group figures to include receiver Gino Simone of Skyline High in Sammamish and defensive back Nolan Washington of Kennedy High in Burien. Both are highly touted and they each play positions where the Cougars need to build depth.

AN INTRIGUING NEW NAME on the Cougars' roster of freshmen this season is 5-10, 175-pound Dominique Jackson, a cornerback from the Bay Area. He's one of three invited walk ons already enrolled in classes at WSU, joining Spokane's Elliot Bosch and Redmond's David Gilbertson.

A year ago he was tabbed by as one of the California prep DBs to watch in the 2009 recruiting cycle but he didn't earn any major conference scholarship offers. One California prep coach CF.C talked to raved about his feet, saying Jackson was "quick like you wouldn't believe."

"He's got decent size and good speed -- 4.5 legit, maybe 4.4," says Scout's West Coast analyst, Brandon Huffman. "Historically, Hayward guys have often been overlooked, for whatever reason. But he's solid from the film I've seen. He probably projects better as a CB … It's a good solid pickup, especially as a walk-on."

Jackson was a two-way standout at Hayward High, just outside Oakland. He earned first-team all-league honors at defensive back and second-team plaudits at running back in 2009 despite being slowed early in the campaign with a hip injury. As a junior in 2008, he rushed for 20 TDs and more than 1,300 yards.

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