Scouting the PAC 10: Washington State

Once you think they're down Wazzu proves they are far from out. Mike Price always seems to find a way to pull this program up from its' bootstraps just before it hits the gutter, reviving the team and his status in Pullman. This year's squad has a real opportunity to represent the PAC 10 in Pasadena next January and like the last time they were smellin' roses Wazzu will be characterized by an offensive aerial show and solid defense. They also have a good amount of pro-prospects on this roster.

Washington State Cougars

Jason Gesser will garner the headlines and the quarterback is a solid, middle round pro-prospect. An athletic passer, Gesser's quick in all aspects of his game, displaying the ability to make plays in the pocket or on the move. He has a nice feel for what is happening on the field, senses the rush and avoids it, always working to make positive plays. Gesser shows great quarterback intangibles, leadership skills and pocket presence. His arm strength solid as are the decisions he makes but Gesser needs to improve his fundamentals, which will result in improved accuracy. It would not be unthinkable for him to move into the early third round should he pull off a great senior season and cap it off with outstanding performances prior to the draft. Wazzu has a pair of senior receivers to watch, one popular, the other very underrated. Mike Bush, a basketball player for the Cougar round ball team, stands head and shoulders above the competition. Using his great size as an advantage, Bush extends vertically, adjusts to the errant throw, easily snaring the ball out of the air, looking the pass into his hands. Bush displays consistency and, for the most part, remains focused on the field. More of a possession wide out, Bush is not effective in the deep field, must pick up the tempo blocking and refine the details of his position (route running, getting open). Still, his size is a great asset and one good clocking in the forty prior to April could push him into the top 60. One of the most overlooked pro-prospects on this squad is receiver Jerome Riley. Very much a developed pass-catcher, Riley's a good route runner that catches the ball in stride and effectively takes it up the field after the reception. Also displaying the ability to adjust for the errant throw, he extends his hands and makes the difficult reception away from his body. After pouring over film we found him to be more consistent than Nakoa McElrath, the once highly thought of Wazzu prospect looking for work. He is by no means a burner but a good season could move Riley into the middle-to-late frames. Up front they have several good prospects. Derek Roche is a hard-working, tough lineman who plays with a good degree of intelligence. Effective blocking for the run or pass, Roche plays with great fundamentals displaying strength at the point of attack with the ability to hold defenders at bay. Roche is not a agile or nimble guard and best in only confined quarters, which will push him into the later rounds. The Cougs have a pair of solid underclassmen on offense. Back-up quarterback Matt Kegel has the size and arm to be an outstanding pocket passer and displays flashes the few times he's inserted into the game; enough talent to make us feel he'll be a force in the future. Tackle Calvin Armstrong grades out very highly and is a solid prospect for the future.

Though he's been a terrific cover corner two seasons running to our minds Marcus Trufant is possibly the most underrated cornerback in the nation. It is even justifiable to say he's the most overlooked defender in all Division I-AA. Trufant is a true shut-down corner in every sense of the word; physically, mentally, on paper and on film. Deceptively fast, Trufant stays step-for-step down the flanks with opponents, never losing tract of them on the field and displaying great wherewithal 60 minutes a game as well as a feel for his position. An aggressive defensive back that supports against the run or screen passes, he's always willing to fly around the ball and is definitely worth a top 32-choice next April to our minds. Underclassmen fill the rest of the coffers on defense. Tai Tupai is an athletic but undersized defensive tackle with a large degree of growth potential and upside. Much the same can be said of defensive end Isaac Brown, an explosive college pass rusher that may be moved to outside linebacker at the next level. Finally, Jason David stepped it up at corner last year and if he continues to progress has a solid future.

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