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Saturday, August 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: All eyes may have been on Andre Dillard, but WSU’s Pro Day was about others being seen as well

NFL scouts react as cornerback Darrien Molton runs a 40-yard dash drill during Washington State’s Pro Day on Wednesday  in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
NFL scouts react as cornerback Darrien Molton runs a 40-yard dash drill during Washington State’s Pro Day on Wednesday in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There is an old saying about a rising tide lifts all boats, which seems a little hard-to-understand for someone, like me, who gets seasick in a hot tub. But it does have a football connotation we will try to explain. Read on.


• There was a crowd at Washington State’s annual pro day yesterday. Not the Paul Wulff-era crowd of eight or nine guys from the Seahawks’ equipment staff, but actual scouts, player personnel guys and a general manager.

Why? It’s simple. The Cougars have a first-round draft pick in their midst, tackle Andre Dillard. And the perfect first-round draft pick, if you are one of his teammates looking to be seen by NFL talent evaluators.

Dillard isn’t so good only a couple teams will be in on him, a la Kyler Murray. He’s a middle-of-the-first-round type of guy, someone every team has to have some sort of connection to, just in case he’s still around when their pick comes up.

That translates into 28 teams sending representatives to Pullman yesterday, holding stopwatches, notepads and electronic devices that have a Star Trek: The Next Generation look to them.

That seems appropriate. After all, those 28 teams are looking for the next generation of player. And while they are focusing on Dillard or Gardner Minshew or James Williams, if someone else happens to catch their eye, that’s a good thing.

Not just for the player who shines but for Washington State as well. It may mean the next time the Cougars are in the running for a four-star linebacker and their Pac-12 brethren are using Pullman’s remoteness against them, Mike Leach can point to the picture above. If you are good enough, the NFL will find you.

Even if they have to go through a speed trap to get there.

It happened for Dillard. Why not Joe Recruit?

• The general manager in attendance? That would be the Carolina Panthers’ Marty Hurney, who took the long trip northwest to meet with Dillard, talk with him a few minutes and then take off.

At least Hurney picked up a few thousand frequent-flyer miles – and possibly the guy who will be protecting Cam Newton’s blindside for the next few years.

The Panthers pick 16th in the first round of the draft and they probably expect Dillard to be available then. But by Hurney being so public yesterday, they may have enticed someone picking a bit later to make a trade, leapfrog up the board and pick Dillard instead.

That’s good for him, as the higher a player goes, the more money is available.

But don’t read too much into Hurney’s visit. In the Machiavellian world of the NFL Draft, there is more misdirection than the latest episode of “Killing Eve.”


WSU: Theo Lawson was in the bubble yesterday as the Cougar players went through their pro day. He has a story, of course, as well as video of post-workout interviews with Minshew, Dillard, Williams and Peyton Pelluer. … Tyler Tjomsland was also in attendance and has this photo gallery. … We can also pass along SWX’s video of the event. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Washington began spring practice yesterday with all eyes on quarterback Jacob Eason. … There is also football news from Colorado, Oregon State and Oregon. … Oregon is excited about being in the women’s Final Four. … UCLA seems excited about TCU’s Jamie Dixon. Reports are the two are talking. … Colorado and Arizona State may be losing players.

Gonzaga: The Wooden All-American team didn’t make the same mistake as the Associated Press. Brandon Clarke was among its top 10. As was Rui Hachimura. Jim Meehan has the particulars in this story. … Jim also passes along the news Josh Perkins will shoot in the 3-point contest at the Final Four. … Larry Weir spoke with Steven Karr of Slipper Still Fits for the latest Press Box pod. I will join Larry today. … Around the WCC, the reason this wouldn’t work is simple: There is more to college athletics than basketball.

Idaho: Kaden Elliss absolutely manhandled a blocking sled during the Vandals’ pro day yesterday. Peter Harriman has more in this story.

Preps: Even if it is still spring break week (in Washington), there is a lot of prep action to cover. For example, the writers around Washington picked their all-state teams, with Anton Watson the overall player of the year. Dave Nichols has all the local honorees. … Dave also has a capsule look at the area’s baseball teams as well as a story on Mt. Spokane, which won the GSL last year. … Ryan Collingwood has a track and field notebook.

Mariners: No game yesterday. It was travel day. But there is no game today either, due to the weather in Chicago. It’s already been moved to tomorrow. … How have the M’s started so well? … After the offseason of trades, Seattle has a bunch of highly prized prospects in the minors. If you want to follow them, they are playing all over the map.

Seahawks: The contract deadline Russell Wilson put forward this week is still part of the discussion days later. … Who will the Hawks pick in the draft?


• It should be a nice day around these parts today. Friday, Saturday and Sunday? They look kind of wet and dreary. If you have been stuck in an office all week, sorry. You may just have to sit around and watch sports this weekend instead of raking the thatch out of your lawn or turning on the sprinklers. Isn’t that sad? Until later …

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