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Sun Bowl notebook: Washington State preparing for postseason opt-outs; slot Travell Harris considering another season at WSU

By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

PULLMAN — Jake Dickert gave media members vague confirmation Tuesday, promising an official roster update soon when asked whether any pro-bound Cougar football players plan to skip the team’s Sun Bowl finale.

The first-year coach wouldn’t spill anything definitive, but his announcement of forthcoming news implies that WSU (7-5) is bracing to play without one or more of its contributors when it meets Miami on Dec. 31 in El Paso.

Responding to a question that specifically named running back Max Borghi, tackle Abraham Lucas and cornerback Jaylen Watson — NFL hopefuls who wouldn’t surprise many if they opted out of the bowl game — Dickert provided some acknowledgement of the Cougs’ potential postseason absences.

“We’ll put all that stuff out officially next week,” he said, then steered his thoughts to the present. “I want guys to focus on finishing class and graduating.

“We’ll put that stuff out next week, but right now we have a lot of periods where we’re just looking at the young guys. That’s the best part about these 15 practices. It’s winter camp. We’ll do some Miami prep and a lot of young-on-young (practices) to see these guys keep developing.”

Conversations between coaches and possible opt-outs are ongoing.

“We’re working through everything,” Dickert said. “Right now, we just like the way our young guys are performing.”

Borghi, the fourth-year standout from Colorado, announced Monday evening over Twitter that he’s officially declaring for the NFL draft. That’s been expected for the past month, after Borghi confirmed during a news conference Nov. 16 that this would be his final season in Pullman.

Borghi penned what seemed to be a goodbye letter to WSU, adding in the note that he will “begin training immediately” for the pro ranks – an indication that Borghi won’t play in El Paso.

“It has been nothing but an honor to play for Washington State and represent such an amazing University,” he wrote. “I have enjoyed every memory created here and I am so blessed for the many opportunities I have earned.”

If this is indeed farewell, Borghi will finish his Cougar career in a tie with Steve Broussard atop the program’s all-time scoring leaderboard (41 touchdowns), and second to Broussard in WSU history with 32 rushing TDs. Borghi amassed 3,292 yards from scrimmage on 525 touches (6.3 yards per) across 39 games.

Grad student Deon McIntosh and junior Nakia Watson would shoulder the load on the ground in Borghi’s stead.

Both Lucas and Jaylen Watson accepted invites last month to the Senior Bowl, one of college football’s most respected postseason showcases. Lucas started 42 games at right tackle over the past four years and is a four-time All-Pac-12 selection. Watson, a juco product and second-year Coug, broke out in 2020 as one of the conference’s most physically gifted DBs.

Speculation has been swirling recently concerning the Sun Bowl status of Lucas and Watson. Whether they’re opting out, however, that’s not clear.

But it appears certain that safety Daniel Isom has played his last game for WSU.

The sixth-year collegian from St. Louis suffered a serious leg injury Nov. 19 versus Arizona and recently had surgery, Dickert said.

“He’ll be out (for the Sun Bowl) and he’s preparing for what’s next for him, and his future is really bright,” the coach continued. “Ice has given us so much. I just love that kid. He’s a team captain, he’s hanging around practice, still giving us some energy. He’ll be out there at the bowl game. I just call him ‘Coach Ice’ now.”

One more for Harris?

Slotback Travell Harris won’t be opting out of a Sun Bowl game against a foe from his home state.

In fact, he might be opting in for another year on the Palouse.

“I signed my letter of intent to Washington State to play football, so I’m gonna finish it out the right way,” he said Tuesday. “Me and this team have been through a lot of adversity, so I just want to do the right thing and maybe end it off the right way. I don’t know whether I’m coming back or if I’m leaving.

“I’m going to discuss it with my family, but right now, I’m just focused on Miami.”

A fifth-year Cougar and graduate student from Tampa, Florida, Harris was honored on senior night after deciding earlier this season that he would forgo his final year of college eligibility and enter the draft.

He accepted an invite Monday to the Hula Bowl, a postseason all-star game held in Orlando.

Harris was tabbed a second-team all-conference honoree this season. He tallied nine touchdowns and 801 receiving yards, finishing second and third in the Pac-12 in those categories.

He’s apparently testing the waters and gauging his draft stock before taking the plunge.

“We’ll see. I don’t really know yet,” Harris said. “I’ll have to go through all that after this game is over with, and I’ll definitely let you guys know. You’ll see a big announcement on whether Travell’s coming back.”

First, he’s eager to square off against the Hurricanes. Harris said he knows some Miami players personally, and both his father and uncle “are huge Miami Hurricanes fans.”

“I grew up a Florida Gators fan. It’s like a homecoming game for me,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun, interesting game for pride, talking noise with my family and whatnot. My dad, of course, is gonna be rooting for me, but like I said, he’s a Miami Hurricanes fan.”

Calvin Jackson Jr. – the Cougars’ other star veteran slot from Florida – has also committed to playing in the Sun Bowl.

Greene practicing, Beresford finds new home

Senior center Brian Greene, who missed two of WSU’s final three games, has been participating in recent practices, Dickert said.

Sophomore Konner Gomness remains stationed at center, but Greene’s presence boosts the Cougars’ interior depth.

“He gives us kind of a Swiss-Army knife,” Dickert said of Greene, who didn’t travel to Oregon on Nov. 13 because of a personal matter and missed the Nov. 26 Apple Cup for an unspecified reason. “He can play some center, where he’s experienced … and play some guard and be interchangeable. He’s had a good couple of practices.”

Right guard Cade Beresford, who rotated with Ma’ake Fifita at the position throughout the year, entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal Dec. 1. He committed to Boise State on Monday.