CAMP DAY 5: Young Cougs don full pads but..

PULLMAN — Thursday morning saw the first WSU practice in full pads, but coaches nixed all-out tackling in the youth-oriented session to save wear and tear on players. Still, CB Anthony Houston — converted from receiver — drew plenty of whoops and hollers when he lowered his 6-foot-3 frame and put a solid lick on 5-8 running back Carl Winston coming out of the backfield after catching a swing pass.

The morning practice, as it was yesterday, was limited to true freshmen, other young players and a handful of older players lower on the depth chart.

Anthony Houston and another redshirt junior cornerback, Shane Thomas, turned in some noteworthy work in pass coverage along with Jamal Atofau and Casey Locker.

Defensive end Jordan Pu'u-Robinson again displayed impressive athleticism on Thursday.

Carl Winston, who can slide through the tiniest of gaps, and 5-6 freshman Leon Brooks showed quickness and speed when running or catching the ball.

There were far fewer dropped passes than on Wednesday morning, when practice was held in the rain.

Esa Johnwell recorded a handful of nice grabs, including a diving effort on the left sideline despite Thomas' tight coverage.

Easton Johnson got behind everyone to haul in a long touchdown pass from Jeff Tuel, but Robinson might have sacked Tuel if contact with the quarterback were permitted.

For the second straight day, a number of veteran players stopped by the morning practice to lend support and provide an occasional tip to younger players.

-- Less pain: Not that players don't work extremely hard, but fall camp is nothing like in the not-so-good-old days at WSU and most other schools in major conferences.

The endless sprints at the end of practice are no longer standard. In fact, the Cougars have yet to finish a practice with sprints this week.

"The kids are reporting in shape now," Ball explained. "You get them all summer (for voluntary workouts) and you can pay for them to go to summer school, so they show up and they're in shape."

Summers were different when Ball was an NAIA All-American defensive back at Missouri Western.

"We had to go to work," Ball said. "We had three-a-days 2 ½ weeks long (in fall camp). Day after day after day."

-- Salary numbers: Paul Wulff's $600,000 annual pay ranks last among all head football coaches in the six Bowl Championship Series conferences, according to a report in the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel newspaper.

Not as well publicized, the cost of living is considerably lower in Pullman than at many BCS schools. And Wulff jumped at the chance to coach at his alma mater at the relatively young age of 40.

Wulff according to the report is tied for 85th among the 120 head coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-A). Arizona's Mike Stoops ranks ninth in the Pac-10 and 65th in the FBS at $1.025 million. USC's Pete Carroll leads the Pac-10 and the FBS at $4.4 million.

Check back a little later this afternoon when we'll have another report from Pullman, plus look for our coverage later this evening on the second practice session, when the 1's and 2's take the field.

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