Brakes put on speedy Canadian

WASHINGTON STATE'S aim to develop a deep-threat receiving option this season is going to be a bit more challenging than anticipated. The fastest member of the wideout corps, senior-to-be Johnny Forzani, ran into academic trouble and is now planning to try and head to the CFL this summer, according to sources close to the program.

While not the most sure-handed receiver or deft route runner, there was no arguing the wheels of Forzani, a Canadian import. At the same time, it was apparent last season he was having a hard time absorbing the Cougar offense.

Efforts to reach Forzani or a member of the WSU coaching staff were unsuccessful. A spokesman in WSU's sports information department said he wasn't aware of a change in Forzani's status. Following publication of this story, WSU's SID office was able to officially confirm Forzani has left the team.

A pair of reliable sources, however, confirmed to CF.C that the speedster is no longer in the crimson fold. It is unclear if he is planning to finish the school year at WSU.

The 2010 Cougars still return their top four receivers from last season in Jared Karstetter (38 catches), Gino Simon (36), Jeffrey Solomon (25) and Daniel Blackledge (23), but all are more considered possession-type wideout than true deep threats.

On the final depth chart of '09, Solomon was listed as the starting "X" receiver, with Daniel Blackledge his backup. The biggest battle they've had to fight during the Cougar careers has been to stay healthy. This spring now becomes even more important for them.

The Cougs have a plethora of receiving talent coming in the fall, having signed Bobby Ratliff, Marquess Wilson, Robert Jiles, Blair Bomber, Kristoff Williams and Isiah Barton (JC) this class. The fastest of the group look to be Barton and Bomber, and they may best suited to the slot. However, Wulff has said Barton should provide help at both slot and the other receiver spots.

Barton had 56 catches for 850 yards last season at Fresno City. Of his 14 touchdowns in 11 games, nine came by reception, three rushing and two via kick return. He averaged 28.4 yards per kickoff return on 20 attempts with a long of 90 yards. His 2009 highlight video is here.

Last year, as a Cougar rookie, Forzani caught just nine passes, but averaged a whopping 29.4 yards per catch. Against Arizona State he teamed up with Jeff Tuel for the longest pass play in WSU history, catching the ball near midfield and sprinting into the record books for a 99-yard score.

Forzani, who has a personal best time of 4.37 in the 40, didn't play high school football but was a standout in basketball and went on to play two years at Douglas College in British Columbia before trying his hand at football with the Calgary Stampeders' junior team. His dad Tom, a CFL hall of famer, is old friends with WSU assistant coach Mike Levenseller and sent film to Pullman following the son's stellar 2007-08 season with Calgary Colts.

Also no longer with the team is Deon Ford. A reserve linebacker who came to WSU as a defensive back, Ford was never able to make a move up the depth chart at either position and according to sources lost his desire for the game, leaving the WSU program towards the end of last season.

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