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Soon to be graduated Washington State linebacker Mitch Peterson was named to the National Football Foundation's Hampshire Honor Society.
The society is made up of college football players from all divisions that are significant contributors to their teams and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or better throughout their time in school. Peterson was a two-year letter-winner at WSU and appeared in 19 games, making one start.
A native of Spokane, Peterson was named to the Pac-12 All-Academic First Team this past season and his father tells me he is about to graduate magna cum laude with a Masters in Business Administration. Here is the full release from the school.
At noon today we'll be holding a live chat to answer any remaining questions from spring football.
Now for some links …
— In today's paper we wrapped up our coverage of WSU's spring football with a look ahead to the team's offseason plans.
— We also have our coverage of the last day of the Pac-12 golf championships.
— Connor Halliday's mom wrote a first-person account of her experience watching Halliday play for Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback.
— The Pac-12 has revamping the way it trains officials and holds them accountable.
— Washington signed a highly-regarded basketball recruit out of New Zealand.
— Down the road, way down the road, Utah is going to play Baylor, probably.
— Mike Leach says the Cougars will hold some satellite camps for recruiting in California this summer. This explains what those are.
— UCLA's star freshman quarterback is rising up the depth chart.
A dog beaten and buried alive is being released from State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital after surgery to surgically repair her sinuses.
Theia, the formerly homeless dog from Moses Lake, will return in about four weeks a follow-up.
Several weeks ago, she was hit by a car, bludgeoned by a person who may have been attempting a mercy killing and buried alive. Four days later, the puppy made her way out of a shallow grave and, eventually, into Sara Mellado’s home.
See The Spokesman-Review story here: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/apr/01/dog-run-over-beaten-buried-makes-comeback/
WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine has been providing the dog's care.
Mellado set up a crowd source funding site for Theia’s care: http://www.gofundme.com/nfg6uc. In one month, the appeal attracted gifts of more than $28,000 from more than 800 people around the world, according to WSU officials. Mellado has promised that any remaining funds will be donated back to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Good Samaritan Fund.
For information about the fund, visit http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/GoodSam.
Dom Williams and Led Falk led the Crimson team to a 31-29 victory over Gray in the 2015 WSU Crimson and Gray game on Saturday.
It was a good day for the basketball program, as well, as Ernie Kent and the Cougars added a post player that can contribute immediately.
Washington State's spring football season won't culminate with tomorrow's 2 p.m. game at Joe Albi Stadium.
The Cougars, after all, still have practice on Tuesday. But it will be the last chance to see the team really do much until the start of the 2015 season. Vince Grippi is a curmudgeon who would rather spend his time painting a fence or something, but I hear parking is free if you're inclined to watch some football on Saturday.
WSU will split into two teams, Crimson and Gray, and Crimson already has bragging rights. That's because they won yesterday's practice. Here is the usual video of Mike Leach speaking after practice and a fun video of Dom Williams answering five questions.
In the paper today we have a story about Peyton Pelluer, who has played well at Mike linebacker this spring. … Jeff Nusser of CougCenter took a closer look at the Crimson and Gray rosters. … Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune profiled Xavier Cooper in today's paper. … Here is an update on Washington's quarterback competition. … Former Evergreen prep quarterback Max Browne is waiting his turn at USC.
Joe Dahl, Gunnar Eklund, Riley Sorenson, Eduardo Middleton and Cole Madison. Those names ring a bell? If not, you must not have watched any WSU football last season.
Washington State returns all five starters off last year's offensive line. OK, that's cheating because Jacob Seydel and Sam Flor each got a few starts as well. Oh, they're back too. So, offensive line coach Clay McGuire hasn't had to learn new names this spring and the Cougars are as experienced as anybody at the position where experience is most important.
I wrote about WSU's veteran offensive line in the story for today's paper. Before practice yesterday we held a live chat here on the blog. Don't worry if you missed it, we've got the whole thing transcribed here. After practice I wrote up this report detailing what I saw.
A high school teammate of former WSU cornerback Daquawn Brown tweeted that he's headed to Fresno State. … Utah had a tumultuous offseason, but has enough going right to get past it. … The UW basketball team had three players transfer out. Now, guys are transferring in.
Washington State is hosting this year's Pac-12 golf championships next week and today is media day. That means I (plus Jim Meehan and the Grippi clan, for some reason) will be at Palouse Ridge today to make sure the course's greens are suitably filled with divots and ponds jam-packed with golf balls. Or maybe they'll just make me caddy.
So, we'll hold our live chat at noon tomorrow here on SportsLink and you can fire away with questions about WSU's spring practices and Saturday's Crimson and Gray Game.
Until then, here are some links:
— Already one SportsLink commenter has turned that experience into a gig with CougCenter, and you could be next.
— The WSU baseball team ended its nine-game homestand with seven wins.
— The Pac-12 has a couple representatives on this list of the top football coaches under 50.
— One of UCLA's top football recruits was arrested for trying to evade police.
— Utah's Hunter Dimick can't be a sidekick anymore.
Peyton Bender has been slowly closing the gap on Luke Falk during spring practices, and he all but obliterated it with an onslaught of aerial touchdowns during yesterday's scrimmage.
In case you're wondering how the other position battles are shaping up, I put together my projected two-deep depth chart for next season.
Leach also shared his thought on the various scoring systems for spring games. He, uh, likes to keep it old school.
In other WSU news, Jason La Canfora likes Connor Halliday's chances in the upcoming NFL draft and Tom Fornelli says WSU is paying Leach too much per win. The NBA Playoffs started yesterday and Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors are favorites. Here is a story about Thompson.
The pressure of a quarterback competition has been nothing compared to what the WSU defense is throwing at Luke Falk and Peyton Bender.
For about a week the defense has looked really good in practice, particularly the pass rush. That's what I wrote about in the paper today. On the blog we have our practice report from yesterday and video of Mike Leach after practice.
The athletic department has a video recap of practice.
NFL.com has a story about Connor Halliday, who is making the NFL rounds. Wide receiver Vince Mayle has also met with a number of NFL teams, including the Giants.
ESPN Stats and Info says that the Cougars will play the easiest nonconference schedule over the next five years.
NFL teams really try to do their due diligence before drafting a kid, even if it's Marcus Mariota. … The Arizona Daily Star has a first look at what next year's two-deeps could look like for the Wildcats. … Dominic Green, a local recruit from Hazen High, will not be playing basketball at Arizona State. … With a top recruit signed, Cal's Cuonzo Martin expects big things next year. … Here's a Q&A with Oregon State's Jordan Villamin. … A 23-year-old sophomore walk-on is in the mix at defensive tackle for Utah.
Overall, Saturday's practice was pretty ordinary. The offense bounced back after Tuesday's subpar practice, but the defense also had lots of energy and practiced well.
But it was a notable day because a couple players that previously hadn't stood out much stepped up and had good practices. I'll explain below.
— Before we get to the fun stuff, here were the limited guys: Sulaiman Hameed, Frankie Luvu, Andre Dillard (who dressed for the first time in awhile), Nate DeRider, Drew Griffin and Brett Bartolone.
— Ngalu Tapa was limited up until Tuesday's practice but he's hit the ground running, as much as a 325-pounder can run, anyways. He's still with the second unit during team period but spent some time playing with the starters during drills.
— I know a lot of you have been curious about cornerback Jeff Farrar, who arrived at WSU as a true freshman at the end of fall camp last season and was immediately inserted into the two-deep, although he never played and ended up redshirting. Farrar originally signed with Virginia out of high school and had an impressive list of scholarship offers, and WSU's cornerbacks are all young, anyways, so it makes sense that people are curious.
Frankly, Farrar has been swimming a bit from what I've been able to observe – his coverage hasn't been great and I wonder if he's struggled to pick up the schemes a bit. He still seems pretty low on the list of CBs, behind a lot of guys in the same age group. But, he certainly looks the part at 5-foot-11, 208-pounds and if he can make a move up the depth chart it would go a long way toward getting more Pac-12 bodies on the field for the defense.
So, my eyebrows arched a little bit when Farrar ran stride-for-stride alongside Robert Lewis – one of the fastest receivers – on a vertical route during the WR vs. DB drill. Farrar still has a long way to go before he'll be playing with the ones, but the secondary hasn't been great in man coverage so far this spring and if he can stick to receivers like that it'll really help his case.
— Erik Anderson spent last season switching time on scout team between quarterback and wide receiver, and it was kind of fun to watch him throw passes to Gabe Marks, give Marks his blue quarterback jersey and then catch passes the receiver (Marks was used to simulate speedier QBs). This year the 6-foot-2, 190-pound sophomore is a fulltime wide out and he looked pretty good on Thursday.
He seems to run his routes well and showed good concentration on Thursday as he made two nice end zone catches during the one-on-one drill. The Cougars have about 60 good receivers and some of the guys that are playing really well inside right now such as D.J. and John Thompson, will still have a hard time getting snaps once River Cracraft is good to go. But, it looks like Anderson is one more receiver that will be able to give the DBs a good look in practice and down the road, who knows?
— Kache Palacio and Ivan McLennan have both been playing well at the Rush linebacker position, so if they stay healthy I wouldn't expect third-stringer Dylan Hanser to see a whole lot of time there next season. But those guys are both seniors, and outside linebackers coach Roy Manning and McLennan each raved about his play after practice, so he could definitely be the guy for two years starting in 2016.
They each referenced his impressive speed – even more apparent when going against the WSU offensive line and it's wide splits – and ability to eat up ground quickly. The sophomore from Billings, Montana is already 224-pounds but stands 6-foot-4 and seems to have a frame that could carry another 20 or so without losing any speed.
— Don't worry, I didn’t forget to watch the quarterbacks. It was sort of a streaky day for both of them and, while I would give the overall edge to Peyton Bender, Luke Falk's receivers didn't help him out much. Falk also goes against the first team defense a little more, although both QBs spend time going against the first and second units during the skeleton drill and team period.
Falk struggled initially in the skeleton drill, completing just two of his first five or six passes. Then he went on a tear, completing 10 of his next 11, albeit with two that were considered defensive stops because the receiver was less than five yards downfield when he was first touched by the defense. Jeremiah Allison ended Falk's session with a pass breakup over the middle, clinging to a receiver on a crossing route, I believe.
Bender completed eight of his first 10 pass attempts, most of which were short, and a couple that were so short as to be defensive wins. He also found Dom Williams on a comeback route about 20-yards downfield and the receiver took a looping route to get upfield, spinning Marcellus Pippins in the process and running for a touchdown.
Where Bender separated himself on Thursday was in the red zone portion of practice. Falk completed a couple good intermediate passes but was picked off by Pippins on his final throw and did not throw a touchdown in his first set. Bender threw touchdowns on each of his first three attempts, finding John Thompson and Tyler Baker on vertical routes and hitting Dom Williams from about eight-yards out.
Falk came back in and immediately threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Kyrin Priester, missed his next throw and had a third broken up by Kyle Newsom. Bender got one more pass – it was broken up by Parker Henry – and the Cougars moved on to special teams.
— Keith Harrington, Gabe Marks and Marcellus Pippins were the kick returners during special teams.
— Bender fared OK against the pass-rush on Tuesday, but the defense got to him a few times today. Jeremiah Mitchell sacked Bender on the first play of the team period, Palacio got him a little later on and there was a third sack by what we're just gonna call "Team." I have Falk finishing 9 of 12 with a drop by Marks. He also had some good luck, however, throwing his second touchdown to Marks, who caught it in the back of the end zone after the bullet pass was batted by a defender and ricocheted off another receiver.
Bender's first touchdown pass went to Dom Williams, who made the 12-yard reception with one hand while using the other and his body to shield the ball from the defender.
That session also saw a 15-yard run by Jamal Morrow up the middle and a 30-yard pass to John Thompson.
I had Falk going 10 of 15 with a touchdown to Marks, who may have landed out of bounds. Falk didn't take many shots downfield but he was able to consistently get short to moderate yardage. He also had to deal with back-to-back end zone drops by Dom Williams – the second of which would have been pretty hard to catch – and a drop on the drive by Baker.
— That's all for now. The Cougars will likely hold a second scrimmage on Saturday. We haven't gotten a time yet but the last one was 11 a.m. (EDIT: After posting this I checked my email and found an announcement that the scrimmage will start at approximately 1:20 p.m. on Saturday.)
Yesterday was the first day of the spring signing period for men's basketball and the Cougars added to their already sizable class.
We've got a Signing Day story and a blog post with some additional thoughts from coach Ernie Kent.
And here are a few more links …
— Jeff Nusser writes about WSU's recruiting class over at CougCenter.
— King5's Pete Treperinas spoke with one of WSU's new signees, Viont'e Daniels.
— Former WSU baller Aaron Baynes made a music video with his Spurs teammates and it is something else.
— Ted Miller wrote about the WSU defense yesterday.
— Washington picked up a highly-regarded football recruit.
— Former Cal football player Brennan Scarlett got into Stanford.
Today is the beginning of the spring signing period for men's basketball and the Cougars are expected to add at least two new recruits.
Charles Callison and Viont'e Daniels – who we wrote a bit about here – are expected to sign national letters of intent today and it's possible the Cougars could still add a surprise. From what I gather, the Washington State is still looking to add a big, be it a transfer or recruit, from stateside or overseas.
On the football side, I wrote about freshman running back Keith Harrington today, an explosive Floridian who has looked like a standout for the Cougars, albeit inconsistently. I also have a report from yesterday's practice, where the pass rush was sublime and the offense was something less.
For today's baseball notebook I wrote about Gonzaga's pitching and how it's propping up a postseason push, along with notes on WSU and Whitworth.
Jeff Nusser spotted a Grantland article that says Vince Mayle may be a better choice than another talented receiver with more baggage. … Washington WR/CB John Ross III participated in his first spring practice. … Ted Miller profiles star Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright. … Utah receiver had his own personal pro day. … It was a rough year for Colorado football but at least the Buffalos performed well in the classroom. … USC will have another stacked roster next fall.
Before we get to the day-to-day stuff, I've got three stories to pass along that I think are important reads for the well-rounded Cougar follower.
The first is the farewell column from longtime WSU writer Bud Withers. I grew up reading Bud's columns, and it has been a treat to get to know him these past two seasons. He will be sorely missed on the football beat next season and I hope he enjoys a well-deserved retirement.
Secondly, I'm passing along Wright Thompson's story from last week about the death of former WSU hoops assistant Jason Rabedeaux. It will take you awhile to read, and it's really sad, but it is an exceptional example of journalism and well worth the effort.
Finally, I found this column by David Brooks to be very good. Bill Walton tweeted it out last night, which is how I'm justifying its inclusion in this space.
That's it for the heavy stuff. This weekend the Cougars held their first spring scrimmage and we've got a story, blog post full of observations and final stats. Additionally, here are post-scrimmage videos of Mike Leach, Luke Falk and Jeremiah Allison. Afterward, I went to Bailey-Brayton field to watch the WSU baseball team take on Washington. The Cougars lost that game, but still came away with a series win over the Huskies. Also, a 2016 quarterback recruit decided over the weekend that he wants to play for WSU.
A GRIP ON SPORTS • Did I miss anything while I was away, other than a Mariner whitewashing and some fan panic, I mean? No? OK, let's get right back at it. Read on.
Football teams punt, it's just something they do. But the Cougars don't have any punters listed on their spring roster.
So to get the punt work done in practice, the Cougars have had to get a little creative. We explain how in this story for today's paper. And here on the blog we have a post documenting everything that happened in yesterday's practice, video of Mike Leach talking after practice, and a fun video with Darryl Paulo, who answers some questions about the team.
Over at CougCenter, Brian Anderson has a really cool look at the X's and O's of WSU new package that has the quarterback lined up under center. Also, there's this video of outside linebackers coach Roy Manning mic'd up at practice.
Elsewhere in the Pac-12 …
— It looks like Washington's best basketball player is transferring.
— Arizona State has hired Bobby Hurley as its new basketball coach, completing a pretty good week for Duke and its graduates.