Luke Falk now has some huge targets to throw to at outside receiver, but the inside guys are showing off their moves too.
LEWISTON — Senior slot receiver Robert Lewis missed practice Saturday due to an illness. But the Washington State coaches know what Lewis can do. His absence simply gave them a chance to evaluate some of the younger guys.
The Cougars are only four days into fall camp, but it’s already becoming apparent that at least two of the freshman receivers will get significant playing time this season.
Jamire Calvin stands at a diminutive 5-foot-10, 152 pounds, but has been outstanding on the inside. He’s a quick, shifty playmaker who’s deceptively wriggly, and he plays with a moxie that will remind WSU fans of Gabe Marks.
Then there’s Davontavean “Tay” Martin. At 6-3, 182 pounds, Martin looks and plays every bit like the Division I-caliber basketball shooting guard he was. (Martin was at one point committed to play basketball for the University of New Orleans). He’s been lining up for WSU at outside receiver, and he appears to have found some early chemistry with quarterback Luke Falk.
During 7-on-7’s on Saturday afternoon, Falk zipped a ball out to Martin in the middle of the field. With three defenders converging on Martin, the long, lanky receiver leaped up and gracefully pulled in the ball, cradling it as he came back down to earth.
It was a well-placed ball by Falk, but also a great catch by Martin, who looked every bit as if he were back on the basketball court, boxing out defenders to pull in a rebound.
Between Martin, Isaiah Johnson-Mack (6-foot-3), C.J. Dimry, (6-foot-5) and Dezmon Patmon (6-foot-4), Falk now has some huge targets to throw to.
“We had some big guys when I first got here in Vince (Mayle) and Dom (Williams),” Falk said. “Now we just have it from top to bottom. Really all our outside guys are monsters. I think the shortest is Tavares (Martin) and he’s 6-1.
“They’re just big targets. When you think they’re covered they’re really not, they can just give you the numbers and make some big catches, it’s nice to have some big bodies.”
At the moment, it looks as if Tavares Martin and Johnson-Mack will start on the outside, with Sweet and Lewis on the inside. But behind them, Dimry, Patmon and Davontavean Martin are next in the rotation on the outside, with Calvin and Renard Bell lining up on the inside.
Travell Harris, the other receiver who came in with this class of freshmen, is currently on the scout team.
More observations from practice:
— Cornerback Marcellus Pippins was limited in practice Saturday, so Marcus Strong got most of the reps across from Darrien Molton with the first team, while Deion Singlaton also got some looks with the first team defense. Singleton, a redshirt sophomore, had a good day. In the team period, he broke up a pass from Tyler Hilinski meant for Tavares Martin. Then, later on with Falk at quarterback, Singleton forced three consecutive pass breakups.
— In 7-on-7s, freshman cornerback George Hicks III intercepted Hilinski once, and Grant Porter picked off Falk once by diving in front of the receiver.
— Sean Harper, who’s been playing free safety behind Robert Taylor, also made a nice play in 7-on-7 against Hilinski when he prevented Jamal Morrow from coming down with a ball off a screen.
— The battle between Hunter Dale and Kirkland Parker for the starting nickelback position continues to rage. Dale had a particularly good day, picking off Falk in team period, and almost sacking Falk on a second occasion.
— On the offensive line, B.J. Salmonson and Fred Mauigoa remain with the first team at right guard and center, respectively. However, interestingly, left guard Cody O’Connell saw a few snaps at left tackle with the second team offensive line. Perhaps for cross-training purposes.