Cougs' depth at WR cushions loss of Norrell

WIDEOUT KEVIN NORRELL'S decision to not return to WSU -- confirmed Thursday evening by head coach Paul Wulff -- isn't great news for the Cougar offense. But a look at who's returning to the receiving corps -- and who's coming into the fold -- suggests that Jeff Tuel will have plenty of targets to choose from in 2010.

Norrell, widely thought to be WSU's No. 1 receiver heading into 2009, sat out the entire campaign after being suspended for driving under the influence and other infractions. His absence gave that many more turns to the remaining cast -- a cast that is back in its entirety for 2010.

WSU's top five wide receivers from '09 are retunring, led by Pac-10 honorable mention pick Jared Karstetter and sophomore-to-be Gino Simone, who logged 11 starts at the "F" receiver position this past season -- the same position Norrell had been pegged to play.

Karsetter led the Cougars with 38 catches for 540 yards and 6 TDs in 2009. Simone was next with 36 catches for 330 yards and one TD. Also back for 2010 are Jeffrey Solomon (25 catches for 298 yards in '09), Daniel Blackledge (23 catches, 212 yards) and speed-merchant Johnny Forzani, who caught nine balls for 265 yards and a whopping 29.4 yards-per-catch average.

In addition, WSU's incoming recruiting class isn't short on receiving talent. Though some will undoubtedly redshirt in 2010, the Cougs' outlook on the flanks looks promising with Bobby Ratliff, Marquess Wilson, Robert Jiles, Blair Bomber and Kristoff Williams among WSU's known verbal commitments.

While Norrell's departure hurts, his loss doesn't impact the Cougs' biggest concern at receiver: Lack of a consistent deep threat who can stretch the field. Norrell, like Karstetter, Simone, Blackledge and Solomon, is cut more from the possession-receiver mold.

NORRELL, EVEN AFTER being kicked off the team for fall semester, never had anything but good things to say about the Washington State football program. The speedy little wide receiver repeatedly said he looked forward to rejoining the Cougars when spring semester began Monday.

Classes began Monday, but Norrell was nowhere to be found. On Thursday night, Wulff said Norrell will not be rejoining the Cougars due to family reasons.

"We fully support Kevin and his family's decision," Wulff said.

Norrell could not be reached for comment at his Southern California home. His father, Kevin Sr., was reached by CF.C but told that he would be in touch later to talk.

Late in the season, Wulff said he expected Norrell and part-time starting defensive tackle Toby Turpin to be reinstated to the team. Wulff said Thursday that Turpin, a senior-to-be who was suspended for the final two games for an unspecified violation of team rules, has been reinstated.

Norrell played a reserve role as a true freshman in 2008, then sat out last season. He missed the season opener with the flu, then was kicked off the team for ther remainder of the season and the semester after being arrested on charges that were eventually reduced to negligent driving.

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