There’s now a good-sized list of Washington State Cougars who’ve joined Mike Leach’s program as long-shot walk-ons and performed well enough to warrant a full scholarship.
Once upon a time, that was quarterback Luke Falk. After him, nickel Parker Henry. The latest? Linebacker Nate DeRider.
The redshirt senior from Bellevue was awarded a full scholarship early Friday evening during a team meeting hours before the Cougars’ 7:30 scrimmage at Martin Stadium.
The news came as a complete surprise to DeRider, who was initially asked to come to the podium and share the values of being a walk-on football player in front of his teammates.
“Walk-on, it’s about playing with heart, you start low on the totem pole,” DeRider said. “You’re not recruited very highly.”
Cougar coach Mike Leach interjected: “Well, you’re not a walk-on anymore.”
A video released by Washington State athletics shows DeRider being mobbed by Cougar teammates and sprayed with silly string after Leach announced the school would cover the expenses of his final season in Pullman.
DeRider has played in 24 games the last two seasons and was a major special-teams contributor for WSU last year when he recorded seven tackles – four on kickoff coverage and three on punt coverage. He walked on to the team in the fall of 2013 and redshirted.
DeRider has a good shot of cracking the WSU two-deep at linebacker this season and he’ll surely remain a part of the Cougars’ plans at special teams.