Scouting the PAC 10: Washington State 

After several successful campaigns when the program played in high profile bowl games and put top prospects into the draft, Washington State took a step back on the field and the war room last year. Both situations will improve over the next few seasons.  

Offensively the top senior prospect is tight end Troy Bienemann.  A terrific pass catcher, Bienemann quickly releases into routes, runs well laterally and adjusts to pull in the errant throw.  Occasionally flashing speed, he makes plays into the secondary and is a solid receiving threat.  Though he gives effort blocking Bienemann has marginal strength at the point of attack.  Hindered with minor injuries last year, he is one of the better sleeper tight end prospects and offers real potential at the next level.  Center Nick Mihlhauser is an explosive blocker and a lineman whose quickness gives him a decided advantage against opponents.  Blocking with forward lean, he effectively uses body positioning to wall defenders from the action and goes a good job in space.  Very good with the shotgun snap, Mihlhauser displays ability blocking on the second level.  Marginally strong at the point of attack, he does not open up the middle of the field and has trouble turning opponents from the action.  Presently Mihlhauser looks the best suited as a backup at the next level.  The Cougars have a pair of juniors who must be kept on the radar screen.  Receiver Jason Hill was the teams top offensive player last season and a wide out who presents himself as a downfield threat.  Technically sound, he quickly transitions from making the reception to running after the catch and is slippery handling the ball.  Occasionally losing focus and taking his eyes off the ball, Hill lacks strong hands and drops catchable throws on occasion.  Possessing solid size, a good junior campaign could set Hill up to be one of the higher rated receivers moving towards the 2006 season.  Quarterback Josh Swogger possesses the size and arm strength to play in the NFL but must improve his accuracy and consistently before he is  considered a serious prospect.  

Defensively Will Derting is the only senior prospect of mention and a versatile defender who can be used at inside or outside linebacker.  Hampered last season with a wrist injury, Derting is an instinctive defender who quickly diagnoses the action and scrapes laterally, making plays out to the flanks.  Good in pursuit, he also gets depth on drops and displays the necessary speed to cut off the flanks.  Undersized, Derting gets caught up in the wash and has tackles broken.  Presently a middle round choice, Derting could start at the next level if placed in the proper system.  The Cougars have a pair of solid underclassmen on the defensive line.  End Mkristo Bruce is a terrific pass rusher who flies off the edge and displays speed in every direction.  Needing to improve his playing strength, Bruce has the frame to add the size necessary to turn into a complete defensive lineman.  Tackle Aaron Johnson possesses outstanding size and potential for the next level.  Quickly getting off the snap with an excellent first step, he plays with forward lean, balance and body control.  Rarely off his feet, Anderson is a strong lineman who pushes the pocket up the field, wedging between double teams to make the play.  An explosive defender, he is best in a straight line and lacks the ability to immediately alter his angle of attack.  With two more seasons on the football field Johnson could develop into one of the nations better defensive line prospects.

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