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WSU makes some roster changes


COUGARS

Washington State released its 2009 fall roster Saturday, and of the 100-plus names you won’t find a couple who have become familiar to WSU fans the past couple years. Read on for the unedited version of our S-R story.

••••••••••

• Here’s the still-to-be-edited version of our story that will appear in Sunday’s S-R …

PULLMAN – With less than a month before fall football camp begins, Washington State University released its preliminary 2009 roster Saturday.

And there were some familiar names missing, including defensive back Devin Giles and wide receiver Michael Willis.

“They were dismissed for a violation of team rules,” head coach Paul Wulff said.

The seniors join former starting defensive back Romeo Pellum, who was dismissed earlier this year, as expected contributors who won’t be back.

Though Wulff wouldn’t go into more detail, many of the problems faced by the players are part of the public record.

Willis, a highly touted defensive back when he entered WSU in 2005 from Tacoma’s Lincoln High, was arrested April 11 by the Pullman Police Department and charged with driving under the influence, though Wulff said the incident was only “one of many factors” in the decision.

Giles, who started 12 games in 2007 and one last season, has skipped spring football the past two years while battling academic problems. But Wulff said academic shortcomings weren’t the sole basis of his dismissal.

Both Giles and Willis are still enrolled in school and are on track to graduate, Wulff said.

Pellum and redshirt sophomore Aire (formerly Tyrone) Justin, are scheduled for court appearances next month in Whitman County, facing felony burglary counts dating back to the spring. Former freshman defensive back Kevin Frank, who left school after spring semester, was also involved.

Pellum was previously cited in April for driving with a suspended license.

Two other defensive backs, sophomore Tyree Toomer and redshirt freshman LeAndre Daniels, were arrested on burglary charges connected to an alleged early June bicycle theft.

Wulff said those two still have team-related discipline to finish but are no longer suspended from team activities.

He also defended how the summer’s incidents have been handled.

“I’ve been involved with Washington State football or aware of it for 20-plus years,” Wulff said, “and I believe we are as firm as anyone who has ever been here if not more.”

But he feels there’s no need to publicize punishment.

“My philosophy is we do our best to have the players move on and help them move on if they are not going to fit into our program,” Wulff said. “We’re not going to make a big announcement that we’ve dismissed players from the team or to give reasons.

“My reasoning behind that is, nowadays, all you have to do is Google somebody’s name and if I say why we’re dismissing people from the team or they’re leaving a program, it hurts them getting a job … down the road. So I’ve got to be very careful on what is said about our players when they do leave the program, however they leave it.”

• Defensive end Cory Mackay, who fractured his back in two places in a one-car May accident, is on the roster. The 6-4, 257-pounder redshirt freshman from Redmond would have battled for a starting spot in the fall.

Mackay is home after having post-accident surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his back. Though paralyzed below the waist, Mackay is lifting weights and reportedly hopes to back on campus in the fall.

“I know he has a goal and a hope to some day play again, and that’s fine,” Wulff said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s every bit a part of our program as anybody else right now.”

• Anthony Houston, who came into WSU as one of the highest-rated recruits in the class of 2006, is moving from wide receiver to defensive back.

“We’re going to give him a shot on defense,” Wulff said. “It was something he wanted to do and we felt that would be an opportunity to possibly get him on the field.”

Houston, a 6-3, 205-pound redshirt junior, will work with the cornerbacks, a position left somewhat bereft with the loss of Pellum, Giles and Frank.

• Michael Vandenkolk, who redshirted last year as a freshman wide receiver, has left school and will transfer. Wulff did not know where the 5-11, 175-pound Carlsbad, Calif., native will end up.

• Wulff confirmed recruit Quayshawne Buckley of Ontario, Calif., will not enter in the fall and instead will grayshirt, coming in spring semester.

Buckley, a 6-4, 285-pound defensive end rated three stars (out of five) by Scout.com, needs to improve his test scores to enroll in Washington State according to Wulff.

•••

• OK, that’s all that will be appearing in the paper. But we have a couple other notes. … Xavier Hicks, the starting safety who spent last summer dealing with an assault charge and was suspended for the first three games last season, received a second citation this summer for driving with a suspended license. He has completed his team punishment and will start practice Aug. 9 with the rest of the Cougars. … Wulff, of course, will have to miss the first three practices as part of his NCAA-mandated punishment relating to violations at Eastern Washington University. … Wulff said Brandon Rankin, a highly coveted junior college defensive lineman, is still on track to enter WSU in the spring. Rankin, 6-5, 260, has three classes to complete to be eligible. … There were other signees besides Buckley that didn’t get into school, including Asi Hosea, a defensive back from Utah, and Terrell Thompson, a linebacker from Colorado.

•••

• That’s all we’ve got for now. We’ll be back as events warrant. Until then …


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