As spring football nears, the Cougars have to try to move on from the loss of 18 senior contributors, and their late quarterback, Tyler Hilinski, and work to fill holes all across the board.
Washington State will begin spring practice on March 22 at Martin Stadium, the Cougars announced Thursday morning.
WSU’s 15 practices will conclude on Tuesday, April 24, and the spring game will be held at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane on Saturday, April 21 at 1 p.m.
Here’s the full practice schedule.
The Cougars will be breaking in a coaching staff with four new assistant coaches, and a young team.
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WSU graduated 19 seniors, 18 of whom factored into the two-deep. The Cougars will, however, have linebacker Peyton Pelluer back for a sixth year after he was granted an injury redshirt for the 2017 season. Pelluer played in only three games before a broken foot shut him down for the year.
He’ll enter his sixth season as WSU’s de factor leader.
The Cougars need to fill positions all across the board, including at quarterback, outside receiver, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, safety and kicker.
The biggest question mark comes at the quarterback position. With the passing of sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilinski last month, WSU now goes into spring practice without a single quarterback on the roster who has taken snaps in an FBS football game.
Redshirt junior Trey Tinsley served as WSU’s third quarterback last year, traveling to all the games, backing up Luke Falk and Hilinski and also serving as the holder on special teams. Tinsley has tried to step into a leadership role in the wake of Hilinski’s death, ensuring that 7-on-7 workouts continue. But he has never played quarterback in a game for WSU.
Tinsley came to WSU as a preferred walk on by way of Fullerton College and played his high school football at El Toro High in Lake Forest, Calif.
Behind him is redshirt junior Anthony Gordon, who joined WSU from the City College of San Francisco, where the Cougars found defensive standouts Shalom Luani and Robert Taylor.
Preferred walk on John Bledsoe, the son of WSU quarterbacking great Drew Bledsoe, and Connor Neville are both coming off their redshirt years, and Bainbridge High alum and walk on Casey Brink will also be part of WSU’s quarterbacking equation.
But all eyes will be on freshman Cammon Cooper, a four-star, Elite 11 signee who enrolled early at WSU and figured to fight for the backup job behind Hilinski in his first year.
With Hilinski’s passing, Cooper has been thrust into the spotlight sooner than expected.
“He’s a real hard worker, he’s smart, and he’s continuing to grow,” WSU head coach Mike Leach said Wednesday. “He’s inordinately fast for a guy built like him. He’s very alert, on top of (being) a committed player, and he’s explosive too.”
Cooper clearly has all the measurable tools to one day be the starting quarterback at WSU. The question, of course, is when he’ll be ready to do so.