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WSU freshman Isaiah Johnson turning heads in camp

Washington State running back Keith Harrington (24) has been taking a couple of reps at Y-receiver. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State running back Keith Harrington (24) has been taking a couple of reps at Y-receiver. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo
Jacob Thorpe,

Freshman wide receiver Isaiah Johnson got the bulk of the reps at Z-receiver and made the most of his opportunities. Even with the pads on and the defense hitting harder during team periods, the 6-foot-4, 216-pound freshman was able to impose his will on smaller defensive backs.

His touchdown during team period, a 12-yard toss from Tyler Hilinski, was a good example. D’Jimon Jones stuck with the receiver and positioned himself well to knock the ball away or intercept it, but Johnson simply jumped through the freshman defensive back and grabbed the ball, securing it with his hands away from his body and holding on through contact to complete the catch. He also is showing the ability to catch quick balls and get up field where safeties will have a tough time bringing him down without help.

Here are some random things to know: Robert Taylor has been seeing time at both safety spots as well as cornerback. He’s been playing very well – watch our video with Mike Leach to see him describe a play Taylor made that Leach did not think was physically possible – but beating out Shalom Luani, Jalen Thompson, Treshon Broughton or Darrien Molton is going to be hard. Ultimately, he will either start at strong safety in front of Thompson, or be the primary backup for both safety positions.

Charleston White is not in pads yet but he was running at safety.

Keith Harrington has taken a couple reps at Y-receiver during the team period the last couple days. D’Jimon Jones is at cornerback. Jones had a nice pass breakup of a Luke Falk pass during team while covering Johnson. But Johnson also got Jones pretty good, giving him a mean stiff arm, creating separation and picking up another 5-10 yards.

Speaking of team period: The defense has still won it in every practice. The defense won today, 29-25, though they gave up touchdowns on the last three plays (Falk to Tavares Martin, Falk to C.J. Dimry, Falk to Martin again) and did up-downs afterwards.

Tyler Hilinski and the offense were in a rhythm early. But Molton stripped Kaleb Fossum and tackled Isaiah Johnson for a loss on the next play. That sequence sort of changed the tone of practice, and the offense stopped being able to find much success against the defense. Then Hilinski threw a deep pass to Kyle Sweet, who got both hands on it in the end zone, but had it ripped away by Kirkland Parker for an interception. Marcellus Pippins had a nice pass breakup, and the defense was up 14-12 when Falk came in.

Falk was sacked on his first two drop backs (Frankie Luvu then Hercules Mata’afa) and had a few passes either go for losses or dropped. He was also sacked by Logan Tago.

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