PULLMAN – Without much turnover on the offensive line, Washington State fans haven’t had, and won’t have, too many glimpses of the young players that’ll be called upon when veterans Fred Mauigoa, Josh Watson and Robert Valencia graduate after this season.
Unless one of the ungroomed youngsters happens to usurp an experienced vet.
The Cougars haven’t run into that just yet, but one of the team’s redshirt freshmen, Jarrett Kingston, appears to be pushing the sixth-year senior who’s been starting at left guard, former junior college transfer Robert Valencia.
Kingston’s push continued Saturday in WSU’s 41-10 win over Colorado. The second-year player didn’t start, necessarily, but he won himself a few more repetitions, replacing Valencia at left guard on at least two separate drives and not just when the Cougars already had the game in hand.
On WSU’s first drive of the second quarter, Kingston came in for Valencia while the rest of the offensive line stayed intact. The Cougars made it to CU’s 45-yard line, but ended up turning it over on downs. Kingston returned to the game midway through the fourth quarter, right before Anthony Gordon and most of WSU’s other offensive starters were pulled.
“Valencia did a really good job,” WSU coach Mike Leach said. “Valencia, I thought, graded out the best of our lineman last week. But I think Kingston’s right behind him and there’s been some weeks where we’ve thought about whether we start Kingston or Valencia.”
Kingston, a native of Anderson, California, made his collegiate debut on a PAT in the 2018 Apple Cup – the only appearance during his redshirt year – and has played in four games this season, mostly in garbage time.
But Leach said the second-year rookie has been a quick study and coaches have been encouraged by his energy and attitude. So, while Valencia remains the starter for the time being, and won the team’s “Bone Award” given to the best offensive lineman, it’s clear there’s not much room for error with Kingston right on his heels.
“Kingston plays at a high level,” Leach said. “He’s quick and he just loves football. He loves playing football. He’s the type of guy that’s disappointed when practices and games are over and wishes they’d start sooner type of guy.”
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