PULLMAN – A social media video taken earlier this summer at the Illia Dunes, a popular party spot near Washington State’s campus, depicts Jayden de Laura, the team’s returning starter at quarterback, and at least one other Cougar football player participating without pads in a Oklahoma-style tackling drill with dozens of other college students watching.
The Oklahoma drill was a popular, full-contact exercise used by various football teams to refine tackling technique, although many college programs have discontinued its use since the NFL banned the drill in 2019 citing safety concerns. WSU hasn’t employed the Oklahoma drill through the first two weeks of preseason camp and the Cougars enforce a strict no-contact policy when it comes to their quarterbacks, even when the team is practicing in full pads.
In the video, which was posted and later deleted by the “Barstool Wazzu” Instagram account, de Laura appears to be partaking in a variation of the drill and is seen driving another college-aged male into a wet sand bank. De Laura, wearing a black swimsuit, and the other participant, who’s carrying a yellow football in his arms, begin the video lying on their back before getting on their feet at the same time and colliding. A large crowd of WSU students taking in the scene – many of whom can be seen holding beer cans and red cups – erupts when de Laura finishes the tackle.
WSU head coach Nick Rolovich indicated he hadn’t seen the video before it was brought to his attention after Friday’s practice in Pullman. The clip was posted by Barstool Wazzu on Tuesday afternoon and taken down that night. The Spokesman-Review later learned the video was recorded earlier this summer, well before the Cougars opened preseason camp.
“It’s probably something we should talk about,” Rolovich said.
“I appreciate you bringing it to my attention, but I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know what it looked like. It’s hard for me to say without looking at it.”
De Laura was suspended from WSU’s football team for more than three months after the starting QB was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence on Feb. 6.
Although de Laura was found not guilty of misdemeanor DUI charges last month, he missed the entirety of spring camp in Pullman before being reinstated. The Honolulu native is entrenched in a three-man quarterback battle with graduate transfer Jarrett Guarantano and redshirt junior Cammon Cooper.
In a July Twitter post in which de Laura announced he was found not guilty, he wrote, “While I do feel mildly vindicated by today’s verdict, I recognize that I made some poor choices on the night in question. I, and I alone am responsible for those choices. I also recognize that I have let a lot of people down here at WSU and also understand the tremendous trust and responsibility that has been placed upon me.”
During multiple interviews after practices, Rolovich has characterized the QB battle as competitive. He said Friday he hoped to narrow the race down to two players by next week. The Cougars open the season on Sept. 4 at home against Utah State.
The other player in the since-removed video is Jernias Tafia, a freshman walk-on offensive lineman from West Seattle. Tafia takes a turn in the Oklahoma drill, making two attempts at tackling the other participant, who appears not to be a football player.
On the second attempt, the 6-foot-3, 308-pound offensive lineman lifts the other male from the ground and slams him into the sand bank before landing on top.
Barstool Wazzu has left videos of other students participating in the tackling drill on its main feed, but clips including de Laura and Tafia no longer exist. The videos including the WSU football players were viewed more than 1,000 times and collected more than 1,000 likes before being deleted.
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