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Ex-Cougar Woolridge settles into role at UI

Hard to believe DeMaundray Woolridge has been out of college football since 2006. But the former Washington State running back is eligible again … and he moved just 8 miles down the road at Idaho to reunite with Robb Akey. I talked to Woolridge after the Vandals’ first scrimmage of fall camp. Click below for the story that ensued, as well as notes from the scrimmage.


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Josh Wright

Correspondent


MOSCOW, Idaho —The thickly built running back with a gap-toothed smile and well-traveled past understands what he’s missed. At Washington State, DeMaundray Woolridge let one opportunity after another slip through his hands.


More than two years later, things are starting to come into focus for the former Cougar. He knows who to blame, and what to be grateful for — like a last-ditch chance at the University of Idaho.


“I made my mistakes,” Woolridge said Friday after the Vandals’ first fall scrimmage. “That’s my fault there. I was young. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. But here, I feel like this is better suited (for me).”


It’s been a long-winding path back to college football’s highest division for the Texas native. Woolridge left WSU following the 2006 season because of poor grades, then sat out the last two years trying to fix his dinged-up grade-point average.


He spent time working odd jobs, moved briefly to Langston, Okla., to attend a small NAIA school and came back to the Palouse after calling UI coach Robb Akey, a former Cougar assistant.


“I’m proud of him,” Akey said. “He’s got (his grades) situated. Not only did he get that taken care of so he can play his senior year, he’s also going to get his degree.”


Woolridge is now taking on another weighty challenge: trying to earn playing time in the Vandals’ congested backfield. After playing on UI’s scout team a year ago, the 5-foot-8, 220-pound redshirt senior is one of six tailbacks vying for carries.


Although every back has skills that Akey appreciates, the third-year coach sees a spot for Woolridge.


“I expect DeMaundray to be a factor this year, yes I do,” he said. “I’ve seen DeMaundray do good things in a Division I football game. And he’s worked his tail off to get to this scenario.”


Woolridge scrimmaged with UI’s third unit Friday, garnering 24 yards on four carries. But his time with backups and freshman came largely because he’s recovering from a strained hamstring, he says.


Asked if he felt the Vandals’ running back depth chart was crowded, Woolridge replied, “No, it feels more like a family. We all love each other; we’re all good. It’s a great corps.”


YOUNG CORNERBACK STANDS OUT


Tracy Carter, a slender 5-11 true freshman from Mesquite, Texas, only hopes to make the travel squad come early September. On Friday, he took a big step in that direction.


The cornerback snared two nifty interceptions working with the third unit, and both impressed Akey.


“Our depth is going to come from youth in our secondary and our linebacking corps also,” he said. “Therefore, when a young guy like shows up making plays in a test situation like this, it’s a great positive.”


Carter said he was attracted to UI because of the coaches’ energy. “I love the coaching staff. They remind me of my high school coaching staff.”


NOTES: Akey praised the play of freshman linebacker and Lake City High product Jared Heston, who registered four tackles. … Tailback Princeton McCarty left the scrimmage after kickoff drills a few minutes into the afternoon session and was on the sideline the remainder of the time without pads. Akey said he doesn’t believe McCarty is injured. The coaching staff is trying to get reps for as many backs as possible, he said. … Starting safety Virdell Larkins did not participate at the scrimmage and wasn’t at the practice field, apparently at Akey’s behest. “He’s been having a pretty good camp. He wasn’t here this afternoon — that’s between he and I.”


WEB-ONLY STUFF: Nathan Enderle and Brian Reader unleashed several nice throws, but both were plagued by inconsistency and penalties. … Akey had strong words for his defense, and where the team stood one week into fall camp: “Did I find the team I’m looking for? No, we’re not there yet. We’re a work in progress. We don’t play till the fifth of September, and I can tell you right now that’s a good thing. I want to see that defense perform better, that defensive front in particular.” … Akey mentioned twice that sophomore running back Kama Bailey appears to have gained some speed. He picked up 21 yards on four carries. … Akey said that defensive takcle Henry Aseuga was still in Moscow but trying to get “some things worked out” before joining the team. “Hopefully that will work out,” Akey said.


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