FALL CAMP: Tuel cranks up his stock

PULLMAN -- After practicing in warm sunshine the first three days of fall camp, the Washington State Cougars held the first of two Wednesday practices on a cool, rainy morning. Despite the weather, the forecast for WSU's future at quarterback could only be described as bright and sunny after the morning workout.

Jeff Tuel, the lone true or redshirt freshman quarterback on scholarship, showed off his outstanding arm in his first extensive work this fall. The morning practice was limited to true freshmen, other young players and a handful of older players lower on the depth chart.

Defensive end Travis Long and wide receiver Gino Simone were the only true freshmen scheduled to practice with the 1's and 2's in the afternoon.

Tuel (pronounced like "tool") saw limited action the first three days behind Kevin Lopina, Marshall Lobbestael and J.T. Levenseller.

On Wednesday, however, the Fresno, Calif., product ran the offense most of the way, with walk-ons Dan Wagner and David Gilbertson the only other quarterbacks on hand.

"That was a great idea to split (practices), because we were seeing very, very few reps," Tuel said. "This way we got to run the show, and it helped a lot."

-- In a nutshell: The 6-foot-3, 207-pound Tuel stands tall in the pocket and throws the ball with impressive velocity and easy arm action.

"He's got a really good arm," said Todd Sturdy, WSU's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. "He's young. The learning process has started for him.

"He's got a good feel for the game. I like his cognitive skills in the film room. He seems to pick things up quickly."

Last year, Tuel passed for 1,714 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 674 yards and five TD's while leading Clovis West High to the California Division I Central Section championship. Scout.com ranked Tuel the 59th-best college quarterback prospect among seniors.

"For a big guy like he is, he's got great feet," Sturdy said.

Tuel fits the classic late-bloomer profile of so many Cougar stars of the past.

Tuel did not start on the high school varsity until his senior year, but he had been stuck behind talented Beau Sweeney. Now at California, Sweeney is the grandson of former WSU coach Jim Sweeney.

Tuel is expected to redshirt this year, but Sturdy was careful to say Tuel "probably" will redshirt. Sturdy wants Tuel to practice like he expects to play this season, and that's fine with Tuel.

"I'm out here to compete," he said. "I'm not going to come out here like I'm redshirting. I'm going to come out here and play like I'm trying to earn a starting position."

Tuel was one of a large batch* of true freshmen who arrived on campus in early July to participate in the Cougars' voluntary summer workouts. Tuel said he benefited physically and mentally.

"He's one of those guys who loves the weight room," Sturdy said. "I like that in quarterbacks. It gives them confidence.'

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • *The 14 scholarship early arrivals this summer were the most ever in program history at WSU.

  • Stay tuned, later this evening we'll have two more reports from Pullman following the day's second session, when the 1's and 2's take the field.

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