Preferred walk-ons for Cougs a diverse group

THE LATEST OFFICIAL ROSTER just released by Washington State lists a number of preferred walk-ons joining the Cougar program. Included among them are a linebacker who originally signed with BYU, incoming playmakers from the junior college ranks, prep standouts from the states of Washington and California and more.

Among those walking on to the Cougar program is Jerry Bruner. A 6-3, 235-pound linebacker, Bruner signed with BYU as a running back in 2008 out of Evergreen High in Vancouver, Wash. Some in the Utah press at that time compared him to Luke Staley, arguably the best running back ever at BYU.

A NUMBER OF programs can boast of walk-on kickers and punters over the years who have earned scholarships and gone on to standout college careers. Few, however, ever started five in the Rose Bowl.

The 1998 WSU Rose Bowl team featured Cougar starters Shawn Tims, Cory Withrow , Todd Nelson, Lee Harrison and Rian Lindell. They all began their careers out on the Palouse by walking on.

During that Rose Bowl season, Nelson was the third leading tackler for the Cougs. Tims set the WSU record for punt return yards in a game and season. Lindell was WSU's leading scorer. Harrison and Withrow made up two-thirds of an offensive line that allowed Ryan Leaf to set all time Pac-10 season marks for total offense, passing yardage and more. Withrow has gone on to play seven years in the NFL, while Lindell has played six seasons for the Seahawks and Bills.

Crimson walk-on success stories don't end there.

LB Mawuli Davis, LB Grady Emmerson, WR Scott Lunde, DT Tomasi Kongaika and C Mike Shelford are among those who became difference makers at Washington State on Saturday afternoons -- earning scholarships and starting positions. As recently as last season, Myron Beck had nine starts in nine games played last year before he broke his hand.

For the Mother of All Walk On Wonders, however, you needn't look farther than Everett's Geoff Reece. By the time he left WSU in 1974 he was a first-team All-American center.

Bruner will, however, line up at 'backer for the Cougars. After sitting out this season per NCAA transfer rules, Bruner will have three to play three starting in 2010 for the Cougs. He was named AP all-state honorable mention his senior year at Evergreen and was a Seattle Times recruiting red chip in 2008.

RB Leon Brooks (5-6, 160) out of Harbor City, Calif. wasn't the biggest guy on the field but his special teams play loomed large for St. John Bosco High last year. When teams did boot it his way in '08, Brooks averaged 42.23 yards on 13 kickoff returns, taking two back to the house. A part time running back, he had 25 carries for 174 yards, an average of 19.3 ypc.

LB Jim Dahl out of Gig Harbor High checks in at 6-3, 215 pounds. From the same high school as Cougar starting center Kenny Alfred, Dahl was named a first team all-Narrows League linebacker this past season.

Spenser Dayton is a junior-to-be with three to play two at Washington State having transferred over from College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif. He brings some size to the tight end position at Washington State, at 6-5 and 245 pounds.

LB Omari Guidry actually walked on earlier this year and participated in spring ball at WSU -- as did OL Michael Pfeiff.

Guidry is a 6-foot, 200-pound third year sophomore who comes to the Cougs from Glendale CC after prepping at Ingraham High in Seattle -- the same route taken by Cougar Myron Beck, (and also from Ingraham is Cougar Jeffrey Solomon.) Pfeiff is a 6-2, 276-pound redshirt freshman from Marysville, Wash. (Marysville-Pilchuck High).

WR Esa Johnwell comes to Washington State from Pomona, Calif. Played mostly on the defensive side of the ball this past season at Duarte High, where the 6-2, 174-pound Johnwell posted 31 tackles, (23 solo).

Offensive linemen David Slingwine and Michael Spears come to the Palouse from Western after the football program was shuttered at WWU. Slingwine (6-4, 305) is a redshirt freshman while Spears (6-1, 256) is a third year sophomore.

The duo join another former Westerner at WSU -- 6-2, 239 pound junior defensive end Casey Hamlett, who after transferring from WWU was the surprise of the Washington State spring session this past May. Slingwine and Spears hail from Duvall and Vancouver, respectively.

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