PULLMAN – Andrei Lintz was not particularly encouraged by the film he was watching.
Washington State had just hired Mike Leach as its head coach, so Lintz, a 6-foot-5, 252-pound senior tight end, dug up some highlights of Leach’s teams at Texas Tech.
What he saw seemed like a problem.
“Holy cow,” Lintz thought. “Every guy that’s playing receiver is like 205 (pounds). There’s not that many people my size.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get moved to defense or if they were even going to have a spot for me.”
After three practices this spring, it appears as if Lintz was wrong. Very wrong. So wrong, in fact, that not only has Leach raved about Lintz’s size, hands and blocking ability, but inside receivers coach Eric Morris said that if the season started today, Lintz would be WSU’s starting right inside receiver.
“No question,” Morris said. “He’d play every play until he got tired.”
Leach described Lintz as “a big, massive target that can create space for himself, get the ball, runs good routes, real fluid guy, strong, you can move him around. He’s a mismatch if a guy’s littler than him, even if he’s faster. You can move him around. He’s a better athlete than most linebackers. I think it’s pretty tough on most people. And he’s got really good hands.”
Lintz is modest about the impression he’s made on the new staff, saying that “it doesn’t mean anything right now” and that he still has to continue to improve.
Morris echoed that, but also had high praise for Lintz.
“In our offense, it’s about putting those good days back-to-back-to-back, and so he’s right there right now,” Morris said. “He’s proven right now that he’s athletic enough to stand up and run some routes, and then he’s also big enough that he can get down in a three-point stance and he can add to some of our run game stuff. Someone versatile like that, they’re hard to find in this game, and so we’ll use him. He’s the man right now.”
Lintz has some freedom within the offense, too. It’s his decision whether he wants to line up with his hand on the ground, or whether he wants to split out and line up as a receiver.
That’s a versatility that may have been hard to fathom for Lintz last season, when he caught just seven passes, used mostly as a blocker by coach Paul Wulff.
But if Tuesday’s practice was any indication, Lintz could be much more of a factor this year. During a 7-on-7 drill, Lintz caught a touchdown pass from Jeff Tuel on a seam route, and later beat his defender to make a leaping, diving grab in the back corner of the end zone during team session.
“It’s just more fun for me, if anything,” Lintz said. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of the offense and catch balls.”
Notes: Quarterback Connor Halliday, who took a hit to his side last week, missed his second consecutive practice. He was present, though, and did some light throwing during a noncontact drill with the other quarterbacks. … The Cougars added a kicker, Wes Concepcion, to their roster. … Receiver Chandler Jenkins has left the team. … Limited players who spent time doing conditioning drills on the side included cornerback Nolan Washington, cornerback Spencer Waseem, cornerback Brandon Golden, safety Max Gama, cornerback Travion Smith, defensive end Adam Coerper, offensive lineman Joe Dahl, defensive end Hamza Griffin and offensive lineman Jake Rodgers, who was wearing a walking boot on his left foot. Receiver Rahmel Dockery was a full participant after being limited on Saturday. Leach does not disclose injury information.
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