In addition to the issues the group encountered on the field, Washington State’s defensive secondary took a few sizable hits off the field last season, diminishing in numbers when two players – most notably starting defensive back Daniel Isom – were dismissed from the team for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Under the new leadership of first-year coach Nick Rolovich, Isom has found his way back onto the roster and will return to the Cougars this fall, a school official confirmed to The Spokesman-Review Monday.
There had been a trail of hints the last few months suggesting Isom’s return to the team, beginning with various social media posts from teammates welcoming the St. Louis native back. On May 7, Isom shared a photo of the nutrition care package that was sent by former offensive tackle Andre Dillard to every current Cougar athlete.
In The Athletic’s State of the Program series, former S-R beat reporter Christian Caple was the first to report on Isom’s return to the Cougars after getting confirmation from the school.
As a starting-caliber player, Isom gives the Cougars experience and versatility in the secondary, an area where the team constantly struggled last season, proving susceptible to the big play and often struggling to contain bigger wide receivers and tight ends.
Before former WSU coach Mike Leach dismissed Isom for a rules violation, the junior college transfer and former Northern Illinois player had started in seven games – five at strong safety and two at cornerback – and played as a backup in two more.
The 6-foot, 192-pound Isom could be valuable in both roles for the Cougars, who lose one starter at cornerback, Marcus Strong, and will be looking to replace another starter at safety after the tragic and sudden death of Bryce Beekman this offseason.
When he left the team, Isom led all players with two forced fumbles and had two pass breakups, 30 tackles and one sack. Isom had played every game at safety until the Cougars reshuffled their depth chart when defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys resigned midseason.
Isom, George Hicks III and Derrick Langford are all returning players who’ve started games at corner, but they’ll likely be challenged by underclassmen Armauni Archie and Halid Djibril, along with recent commit Jaylen Watson, a former USC signee who was a two-time junior college All-American at Ventura College.