Cougars move around to maximize talent
PULLMAN – A running back is working with the receivers, and two players expected to play receiver are practicing with the defensive backs.
For this time of year – preseason training camp time, at Washington State and every other college football program in the country – position changes are about as common as 90-degree days on the Palouse.
Still, it was a little surprising to see redshirt sophomore running back Rickey Galvin catching passes the past two days, going through position drills with receivers and going up against corners and safeties in one-on-one competitions.
And freshman receiver Rahmel Dockery joined freshman Alex Jackson with the cornerbacks on Sunday and Monday, making the switch after spending the entire spring preparing to be a receiver.
The moves, coach Mike Leach said, are intended to allow WSU’s most talented players to get on the field as quickly as possible. In Galvin’s case, that means taking advantage of his pass-catching abilities, though nothing is set in stone this early in camp.
“He’s got really good ball skills and always has, and cuts really well,” Leach said. “Then we’ve got several running backs taking off that don’t necessarily have the versatility that he has, and the thought is to figure out a way to get as much talent on the field as we can so we have a look at it and evaluate it.”
So Galvin lined up in the slot some, and caught a couple of passes going one-on-one against defenders during that portion of practice.
Leach said he liked what he saw, though apparently it wasn’t all good – Galvin was unavailable for comment afterward as he was busy rolling over and over in the sand pit constructed this season on the west end of Rogers Field.
And it’s not much of a stretch to think Galvin could adapt to a slot receiver role fairly quickly – he caught 28 passes for 242 yards last season, which is tied for second-most among returning players with Bobby Ratliff (and, obviously, well behind Marquess Wilson’s 82).
Galvin isn’t the only player adapting to a role change this week. Dockery, a freshman from Tacoma, said coaches left the decision between cornerback and receiver up to him. But since receiver is one of WSU’s deepest positions, it was obvious that corner would provide him a chance to get on the field earlier.
“Coach said it was my decision to switch or stay where I was, but he said most likely I would redshirt (at receiver),” Dockery said. “He just told me to make the best of it and that’s what I’m doing right now.”
The move isn’t entirely foreign for the 5-foot-10, 169-pound freshman. He played corner and receiver at Curtis High School. Dockery was also in the mix as a possible kickoff and punt returner, though he said he’s not sure where that stands at the moment.
Right now, he’s just trying to learn a new playbook.
“I don’t mind it. It’s just a little weird right now because I just learned the whole offense,” Dockery said. “Right when I learned it, I had to switch, so it’s kind of confusing right now. But I’m getting the hang of it.”
Said Leach: “(He’s) fast, has great hips and again – get as much ability on the field. We’ve got some guys – and part of it is because they’ve been here longer – some guys ahead of him receiver-wise, as far as the knowledge base of things. As far as his speed and his hips, I think we can manifest it sooner out there at corner, and then also we have less bodies there too, so it’s not as long of line. He’s really talented and we want to get as much of his ability out there as we can.”