SPRING DAY 2: Gonzales makes a statement

PULLMAN -- Junior college transfer David Gonzales didn't waste any time making his presence known. In the Cougars' second practice of the spring season on Friday, the big offensive lineman unleashed a pancake block so emphatic that observers were darn near looking around for syrup to go with it. Meanwhile, quarterback Jeff Tuel flashed some fancy footwork, and the defense looked sharp again.

Gonzales, a 6-6, 281-pound tackle, comes to WSU from Fresno Community College, where he was an all-conference performer last season.

He had the hit of the afternoon, when he leveled linebacker Andre Barrington. Mind you, this was a helmets-only workout -- the pads don't go on until Monday.

"David is all business," left tackle Steven Ayers said of Gonzales.

Gonzales and fellow JC transfer O-lineman Wade Jacobson saw time with the first unit on Friday, divvying up reps at tackle with Ayers and Micah Hannam. Both newcomers looked solid in pass protection and run blocking.

"They both have a lot of talent," said Ayers. "Hell, they came in yesterday and didn't make any assignment errors, and for two guys who have never played here, that's pretty impressive. They obviously have a passion for the game. It's refreshing because you have 2-3 year guys who might get down or might get tired and you've got these guys sayings let's go, let's get it, so that brings energy to the group."

Two beneficiaries of their work were running backs Logwone Mitz and Carl Winston.

ON THE DEFENSIVE side of the ball, the speed coming off the right edge on Friday was impressive. End Travis Long and JC transfer tackle Brandon Rankin were a force to be reckoned with, consistently swarming both Tuel and Marshall Lobbestael.

Alongside Rankin at DT was Bernard Wolfgramm, who spent the day running with the 1s because Toby Turpin was not at practice in order to shore up academics. Wolfgramm, hampered by back troubles since arriving at WSU two years ago, showed off excellent footwork.

With the pass rush building, senior safety Chima Nwachukwu said it makes life in the secondary a whole lot easier.

"We got some guys there with Rankin, Travis Long, Wolfgramm and (Josh) Luapo when he gets back," Nwachukwu said. "We have some guys out there that can make our jobs easier on the back end."

Freshman Sekope Kaufusi also got some reps in at DE with the 2s, and showed excellent speed coming off the block. He dislocated a finger in the first session on Thursday but it didn't seem to slow him down. He will also be looked at as an outside linebacker this spring.

Although Tuel was constantly pressured by the first-unit defense, it didn't stop the sophomore from having another productive day. He showcased his arm strength and fleet wheels on multiple occasions. On one play, Tuel did a complete 180 to escape from DE Kevin Kooyman, and hit receiver Daniel Blackledge for a 20-yard gainer. Tuel has put on some weight which Wulff said maybe has slowed his QB down, but Tuel was elusive consistently on Friday, and didn't try and force any balls.

"He was getting rid of the ball quicker which allowed him to make some safer throws which is good so he can get into a rhythm and show consistency," WSU Head Coach Paul Wulff said.

Center Andrew Roxas, whose day was cut short Thursday because of cramps, was not at practice on Friday because of a personal matter which had him return home to California. In his place was redshirt senior Chris Prummer, who struggled at times containing Rankin and Wolfgramm.

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Red-shirt sophomore DB Terrance Hayward saw a substantial amount of time running with the first team Friday, and looked great in coverage with a few pass deflections of Tuel.

  • Senior tight end Aaron Gehring had the catch of the day when he pulled in a 30-yarder from David Gilberton. Gehring tipped the ball to himself before hauling it in with one hand.

  • The Cougars have the weekend off and then resume workouts on Monday when they'll don shoulder pads for the first time this spring.

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