PULLMAN — Washington State’s defensive secondary will be short-handed the remainder of the 2019 football season.
A school official confirmed to The Spokesman-Review Thursday that cornerback Daniel Isom, a seven-game starter for the Cougars this fall, and Trey Davis, a reserve nickel who transferred in from USC, have been dismissed for a violation of team rules.
The school doesn’t specify which rule(s) a player has violated when he’s kicked off the team, but WSU coach Mike Leach has no tolerance for his “three sins” — drug use, stealing and violence against women — and tends to dismiss players after a single offense.
Isom started the first five games of the season at strong safety, the role he was moved to when Jalen Thompson was declared ineligible, but amid the team’s midseason position changes, Isom returned to his natural cornerback spot. The Iowa Western transfer and former Northern Illinois player started two more games at corner, opposite senior Marcus Strong, but he was recently demoted to a backup role in games at Oregon and Cal. Junior George Hicks III got a starting nod in both of those games.
Davis had appeared in four games this season, but there’s a chance he may not have played in a fifth in order to preserve his redshirt. The Federal Way native signed a letter of intent with USC last December and enrolled early, spending spring camp with the Trojans before entering the NCAA transfer portal and enrolling at WSU this fall. The Cougars learned midway through the year Davis was eligible to play and the former three-star prospect made his college debut in the 41-10 win over Colorado.
Up until Monday, when the school released game notes for Saturday’s contest against Stanford, Isom was listed on the depth chart as one of two potential starters at cornerback, alongside Hicks, and Davis was listed as one of two backups at nickel, indicating the players were dismissed from the team either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Isom leads the Cougars with two forced fumbles, is third on the team with two pass break ups and sits sixth with 30 tackles. He’s also notched one sack. Davis has four tackles but hasn’t recorded any other stats.
Isom and Davis have been part of a Washington State secondary that’s been consistently scrutinized for its tendency to give up explosive plays. The Cougars have given up 498.2 yards per game in conference play and they’ve allowed 223 total points — both numbers that rank 11th in the Pac-12.
Moving Isom from safety to corner was one of many changes the Cougars made during their first bye week, after defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys abruptly left the program. Nickel Skyler Thomas moved back to free safety and Pat Nunn was elevated to the starting nickel role, although he’s since conceded that to Armani Marsh, who moved from cornerback to nickel amid the defensive changes. Dallas Hobbs was also promoted to starting nose tackle, taking over for Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei.
Without Isom, the only listed scholarship corners on WSU’s roster are Strong, Hicks, Derrick Langford and Armauni Archie. Shahman Moore and Halid Djibril are also capable of playing the position if necessary. The two nickels on the depth chart are Marsh and Nunn.
Last offseason, Isom was one of four junior-college defensive backs the Cougars brought in to help fill the voids left by players like Darrien Molton, Sean Harper Jr. and Hunter Dale — and, unknowingly, Thompson, who forfeited his senior season when he tested positive for a banned substance over the summer.
The Cougars also lost backup safety Deion Singleton to the transfer portal, and true freshmen defensive backs Myles Green-Richards and D’Angelo McKinzie left the program, landing at Oregon State and Cal Poly, respectively.