The standout junior defensive end missed at least 15 practices during preseason camp with an undisclosed injury, but it didn’t keep him from playing a significant role against Wyoming.

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LARAMIE, Wyo. – Nnamdi Oguayo’s absence from the practice field was a growing concern for Washington State fans through the month of August. Evidently, that’s all it was.

The standout junior defensive end missed at least 15 practices during preseason camp with an undisclosed injury, but it didn’t keep him from playing a significant role in Saturday’s season opener against Wyoming.

Oguayo’s mere presence seemed to uplift the Cougars, who’ve been confronted with adversity on the defensive line all preseason – first when highly-touted nose tackle Pono Lolohea left the program midway through camp, then when WSU learned junior college transfer Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei, who’d assumed Lolohea’s backup NT role, wouldn’t be eligible for the opener because of NCAA paperwork problems.

Oguayo showed up, indeed, and he did more than that, recording three solo tackles while putting Wyoming quarterback Tyler Vander Waal under constant duress in the Cougars’ 41-19 win.

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“He’s such a good guy for us, he helps us so much,” fellow defensive lineman Will Rodgers III said. “More than you guys even know.”

Added nickel Hunter Dale: “It’s a big boost, it gives us depth – something we don’t have on the defensive line this year. And having him back, he’s a vet, he knows, he’s experienced. A lot of people that haven’t played yet could watch Nnamdi and get the experience from him and then get comfortable when he does something. It’s just nice having a vet like that back on the field.”

Even without the depth they had going into camp, the Cougars still rotated seven players through the defensive line. Behind the three starters – nose tackle Taylor Comfort, defensive tackle Nick Begg and defensive end Logan Tago – Oguayo, Rodgers III, Jesus Echevarria and Dallas Hobbs also got playing time.