On Monday, Washington State lost one of its top offensive players to the transfer portal.
On Tuesday, it was the Cougars’ defense that took a rather significant hit.
Skyler Thomas, a versatile defensive back who started 25 of 26 games the last two seasons at both safety positions and also nickel, announced on Twitter he was entering the transfer portal and plans to reopen his recruitment.
“Would like to thank Washington State for a great four years,” Thomas wrote. “I am forever thankful for Coug nation. I am also thankful for all the coaches who have helped me get this point. With that being said I have put my name in the transfer portal and would (like) to reopen my recruitment.”
Thomas’ announcement comes approximately 24 hours after Tay Martin, arguably the team’s best returning wide receiver, confirmed to The Spokesman-Review he too was entering the portal.
Neither player offered a reason behind their decision, but it’s possible both are looking for an opportunity to play this fall after the Pac-12 announced last week that it is postponing its season. The SEC, Big 12 and ACC are still moving ahead with a fall season, along with a few mid-major and FCS conferences.
Even during a tumultuous season for WSU’s defense in 2019, Thomas was one of the unit’s anchors, starting in all but one game and finishing second on the team with 72 tackles. Thomas also had two tackles-for-loss, led the Cougars with four interceptions and tacked on two fumble recoveries and three pass breakups.
Thomas’ ability to play multiple positions in the secondary was pivotal for a team that saw its defensive coordinator, Tracy Claeys, leave after five games and rearranged its defensive depth chart shortly thereafter. Thomas made 13 starts at free safety as a redshirt sophomore, but moved into the hybrid nickel role for the first give games of his redshirt-junior year, then started seven more at strong safety.
The Riverside, California, native was third on the team with 76 tackles as a redshirt sophomore, breaking up two passes and intercepting two more.
Whenever the Cougars do return to contact practice and games, the secondary projects to be one of the least-experienced position groups. The group also loses Marcus Strong, a regular starter at cornerback, and had to deal with the tragic death of starting safety Bryce Beekman during the offseason.