A different kind of spring for Cougs

SPRING FOOTBALL participation this year is going to be different from years past, Paul Wulff tells CF.C. Very different. In recent years, both before after Wulff arrived at WSU, the number of injured Cougs sitting out the spring has been legion. Last year a whopping 24 players were unable to participate due to injury, surgery or both. And this year?

The forecast is for four -- yes, only four -- Cougars to be on the mend and miss the spring.

Four? Heck, that sounds like fewer injuries than your average college football program might have going into the spring.

The missing bodies last spring turned out to be a harbinger of things to come -- the Cougs almost certainly led the nation in injuries during the '09 season.

Having so many more of the pieces available this year should potentially allow Washington State to make greater strides during the 15-practice spring session headed into the voluntary summer program.

Jeff Tuel, he of the injured knee?

"He's great. He's 100 percent, he's 'lifting heavy,'" said Wulff.

Daniel Simmons, who was labeled the Cougs' best cornerback by the staff before he was lost for the season to a broken leg?

"He's 100 percent," said Wulff.

Andrew Roxas (viral hepatitis)? Tyree Toomer (torn pec muscle)? Kevin Kooyman (knee?) LeAndre Daniels (broken leg)?


INDEED, THE ONLY four not expected to practice this spring are James Montgomery, Louis Bland, Anthony Houston and Josh Luapo. Houston and Luapo are both coming back from ACL's torn during the season. Monty (leg) and Bland (knee) could be back at full speed by the time voluntary summer conditioning begins.

"Louis Bland is making progress but best case scenario right now is he's going to be able to be cleared July 1. James Montgomery, we feel comfortable that July 1 he should be (cleared)," said Wulff.

In addition, a number of young Cougars who redshirted this past season are expected to make their case this spring for playing time, with most of them on defense.

This isn't a comprehensive list of all the redshirts but there's Jamal Atofau, Anthony Carpenter, Nolan Washington and Casey Locker in the secondary, Darren Markle and Andre Barrington at linebacker and Justin Clayton and Sekope Kaufusi on the d-line. Highly touted DE Brandon Rankin will also take part in his first spring session at Washington State.

On the other side of the ball, the offensive line is the prime consideration, and newcomers Wade Jacobsen and David Gonzales will join an o-line group that includes Zack Williams and B.J. Guerra, two Wulff has said have what it takes to compete at a high level in the Pac-10, fifth year tackle Micah Hannam, who has started the past three years and Roxas, who has been turning heads in offseason workouts. There's also Tyson Pencer, and Wulff has said he's every bit as athletically gifted as Michael Roos, the Tennessee Pro Bowl left tackle whom Wulff coached at Eastern.

There are other players not listed above who will likely step up and serve notice this spring, there almost always are. But given the low number of walking wounded headed in, and the young talent ready to go get after it, this much has been made clear..

This spring at Washington State has a decidedly different look to it.

Washington State will hold 15 practice sessions, beginning on Thursday, March 25 and concluding on Saturday, April 24.

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