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Sports >  WSU football

Mike Leach sets Washington State’s eight-man receiver rotation; could use as many as 11 wideouts in 2018

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 21, 2018

Washington State’s Travell Harris  runs the ball during practice on  Aug. 3 at Martin Stadium in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State’s Travell Harris runs the ball during practice on Aug. 3 at Martin Stadium in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – In order to breed competition at every spot on the field and ensure no player becomes too complacent, Mike Leach and his assistants typically don’t make too many depth-chart promises or offer up many teasers in the weeks leading up to a new season.

But on Tuesday, the Washington State coach indicated he’d already made some decisions – and tough ones, at that – at one of the team’s most competitive positions, listing the wide receivers who’d be in Leach’s eight-man rotation “if the season started today.”

Since his days at Texas Tech, Leach has adhered strictly to an eight-player, two-player-per-position rotation, reasoning that it best allows a team to allocate sufficient reps to the team’s best pass-catchers, giving them enough opportunity to improve.

The Cougars happen to be so deep at wide receiver this season, however, that the coach said three additional players will get playing time this season.

As for the top eight?

At the outside “Z” receiver position, Leach will call on junior Dezmon Patmon and redshirt junior Easop Winston. The sure-handed Winston redshirted last season after transferring from City College of San Francisco. Patmon, an imposing goal-line target at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, caught 35 passes for 379 yards in 2017 with three games of 60-plus receiving yards.

The other outside position, “X,” will be manned by sophomore Tay Martin and true freshman Rodrick Fisher. Martin was the Cougars’ breakout player on offense near the end of his rookie season, catching six touchdown passes in the last six games. Fisher is an early enrollee who stood out on track and the football field during his time at Spokane’s East Valley High Schol.

Redshirt sophomore Renard Bell and redshirt freshman Travell Harris, meanwhile, made the cut at the inside “H” receiver. Bell emerged as a reliable deep threat for the Cougars last season with three plays of 50 yards or more the first half of the season and Harris is a zippy slot receiver from Florida who will contribute heavily on special teams.

At “Y” receiver it’ll be senior Kyle Sweet and sophomore Jamire Calvin, a duo that combined for 91 receptions, 833 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. Sweet is a crisp route-runner who’s appeared in 37 games for the Cougars and Calvin is a small, but dynamic speedster who made a quick impact last season as a true freshman.

In addition to those eight, Leach also said junior Calvin Jackson Jr., redshirt senior Robert Lewis and redshirt junior Brandon Arconado “could see time at the various positions.”

Presuming none of those 11 sustains a long-term injury or misses games, the Cougars will likely use redshirts on true freshman receivers Drue Jackson, Kassidy Woods and Brandon Gray

Lolohea speaks about exit

In an interview with Cougfan.com, Jonathan “Pono” Lolohea said his decision to leave the WSU football team was centered around the Cougars’ use of the 6-3, 295-pound nose tackle and his relationship with position coach Jeff Phelps.

“I felt that my player strength was not used,” Lolohea told the website on Monday. “Plus, me and the position coach didn’t get along. I’m a JUCO transfer, with not many years to experiment (on how to be deployed). I just prayed about it (and decided to move on).”

Lolohea, a three-star junior college prospect from Mississippi’s Copiah-Lincoln, had been in contention for the starting nose tackle job at WSU, although fifth-year senior Taylor Comfort had spent more time working with the first team defense throughout preseason camp.

The Maui native told Cougfan.com he quit the team on Aug. 13 and intended to transfer, but would not hint as to where that could be.

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