Washington State’s Kyrin Priester spent most of last football season at the “X” receiver position. This year, Priester has been moved inside to “Y” receiver. Three practices into the spring, he appears to be thriving at his new position.

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PULLMAN – Washington State’s Kyrin Priester spent most of last football season working as Dom Williams’ understudy at the “X” receiver position.

This year, Priester has been moved inside to “Y” receiver. Three practices into the spring, he appears to be thriving at his new position.

The junior caught three touchdown passes in seven-on-seven drills at Tuesday’s practice and was enthusiastically congratulated by new inside-receivers coach JaMarcus Shephard each time.

At 6 feet 1 and 194 pounds, Priester brings size and speed to the inside – which Cougars coach Mike Leach said was one of the main reasons for the move.

The hope is that Priester will create mismatches against defenses because, with his blend of quickness and strength, he is a difficult skill player for a linebacker to cover.

“I like the move. I get open a lot easier against linebackers. It’s a lot easier to get open and I think with my speed, I can really help us out at that position,” said Priester, who transferred to WSU from Clemson in January 2015.

With Gabe Marks, Tavares Martin, intriguing walk-on Kaleb Fossum and promising freshman Isaiah Johnson on the outside, Priester’s position switch adds clout to an inside-receiving corps that also features senior River Cracraft (53 receptions, 615 yards, 4 TDs), sophomore Kyle Sweet (21 catches, 222 yards) and Robert Lewis (43 receptions, 490 yards, 1 TD).

“The biggest difference is actually in finding space. In the middle you have to find space, while on the outside it’s just running routes,” said Priester. “So learning where to move is the hardest part.”

Shephard said Priester has a ton of potential but needs to build consistency and polish because he is a little raw in his route running.

“The great (receivers), when they get out of a cut, or to the top of a break, it’s seamless, flawless, and there’s no loss in stride length when they get to the top of routes,” Shephard said. “That’s what we’re working on right now – getting him out of that youthful phase of not running routes correctly, chopping the steps at the top of routes.”

Priester played in every game last season, catching 34 passes for 246 yards and one touchdown.

From his standpoint, that wasn’t enough.

“I don’t think I set my goals high enough last year,” Priester said. “I could have made a lot more plays when my number was called. … My goal (this year) is to step up, make plays for my team and get to that Rose Bowl. It’s a team goal, not just my goal.”

Note

• Of the four newcomers who enrolled at WSU in January – quarterback Justus Rogers of Bellevue, defensive back Jalen Thompson, defensive end Garrett McBroom and wide receiver Johnson – Thompson has made the biggest splash right off the bat.

The 6-foot, 176-pound true freshman from Downey (Calif.) High worked with the first team defense at strong safety alongside senior Shalom Luani during Tuesday’s practice.

Charleston White moved from cornerback to safety this spring and was on the No. 1 defense last week, but Thompson took all first-team reps Tuesday.

On the offensive side of the ball, Johnson (6-3, 214 pounds) has played his way into the two-deep lineup and is taking reps behind Marks at the “X” receiver position.