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Sports >  WSU football

Washington State starting quarterback Jayden de Laura tests positive for COVID-19; Gunner Cruz expected to start

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 19, 2020

Washington State Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura (4) smiles between plays during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, November 14, 2020, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura (4) smiles between plays during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, November 14, 2020, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Washington State starting quarterback Jayden de Laura has tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t play for the team in Saturday night’s game against Stanford, The Spokesman-Review has learned through multiple sources.

It’s unclear if other members of WSU’s football team have tested positive or if any have been placed in contact tracing protocol. The Cougars are scheduled to fly to the Bay Area Friday morning or afternoon for their third game of the 2020 season.

If de Laura is placed in a 14-day quarantine, it means he wouldn’t be available for the Nov. 27 Apple Cup. Redshirt sophomore Cammon Cooper and redshirt freshman Gunner Cruz are both listed as potential backups to de Laura on the team’s depth chart, but sources have indicated Cruz will start in de Laura’s place after getting the majority of first team reps during practice the last few days.

Upon naming de Laura the team’s starter more than a week before the team’s opener, first-year coach Nick Rolovich predicted the Cougars would have to play “a bunch of (QBs) this season.” Despite de Laura’s early season success, Rolovich also suggested the competition was close between de Laura, Cruz and Cooper, but that de Laura’s poise, maturity and understanding of the run-and-shoot offense boosted him into the starting role.

“It was close,” Rolovich said. “Almost unfair, because I don’t think they would’ve gotten the opportunities they would’ve in a regular yearly cycle. But the clock is ticking and we had to get ready to play.

“My message to Cam and Gunner and Victor (Gabalis) was, ‘You guys need to prove me wrong and keep getting better and keep improving and stay ready, because you never know what’s going to happen. Especially this season.’ ”

Cruz will be making his first start – and getting his first collegiate snaps – at 7:30 p.m. at Stanford Stadium. The 6-foot-5, 217-pound quarterback from Arizona possesses the best pure arm strength of any QB on WSU’s roster and has gained a reputation for being one of the more well-liked players in the locker room. 

Leading up to last week’s home game against No. 11 Oregon, WSU’s football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball team had collectively registered just five positive tests since the department rolled out daily antigen testing close to two months ago.

A school official confirmed to reporters last week at least one of those positive tests had come from the football program, but that player was at the end of his mandated quarantine and cleared to play against the Ducks.

De Laura, a true freshman from Honolulu, has flourished in his first two games as the team’s starting quarterback, throwing for four touchdowns and one interception, while rushing for another touchdown.

Against Oregon State and Oregon, he’s gone 43 of 72 through the air for 548 passing yards, while rushing for 54 yards on 16 carries.

De Laura led the Cougars to a 38-28 victory over the Beavers in the opener, but the Ducks erased a five-point halftime deficit to win 43-29 at Martin Stadium.

Pro Football Focus recently gave de Laura the second-highest grade among college quarterbacks for performance in the second half, with a mark of 92.0.

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