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Sports >  WSU football

Washington State receivers De’Zhaun Stribling and Donovan Ollie, both two-year starters, enter the transfer portal

Dec. 5, 2022 Updated Tue., Dec. 6, 2022 at 12:03 p.m.

PULLMAN – Outside receivers De’Zhaun Stribling and Donovan Ollie, two-year starters at Washington State who had yet to reach their potential with the program, have entered the NCAA’s transfer portal.

The two sophomores announced Monday through Twitter that they’ll be exploring their opportunities elsewhere. Both have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Stribling led WSU in every receiving category this season, totaling 602 yards and five touchdowns on 51 catches. Ollie was the Cougars’ No. 3 receiver this year, finishing with 491 yards and three TDs on 43 grabs.

Coming off an impressive campaign as a true freshman, Stribling seemed poised for a starring role and a significant boost in production this year. He showed flashes of promise, but fell short of the high expectations that had been placed on him in the preseason.

Stribling didn’t record a 100-yard game this season and had five games with fewer than 50 yards. His best performances came earlier in the season – he registered 69 yards and two TDs in a Week 3 rout of Colorado State and came up with 84 yards and a score in a Week 4 loss to Oregon.

Still, there was reason to feel encouraged about Stribling’s future, considering he racked up over 1,000 yards in his first two collegiate seasons.

The 6-foot-3, 204-pound Hawaii native captured first-team duties in fall camp last year and started every game for the Cougs during a standout debut season. He earned an All-Pac-12 honorable mention nod after logging 471 yards and five touchdowns on 44 receptions.

A three-star recruit out of Kapolei High, Stribling went unsigned in 2020 and took a year off from football before pledging to WSU and former coach Nick Rolovich as part of the Cougars’ 2021 recruiting class. Stribling held offers from Hawaii, San Diego State and Wake Forest.

Ollie, a Texas native who was recruited by former Cougs coach Mike Leach, joined WSU in 2019 over offers from Iowa State, Kansas, Utah and Northwestern. He redshirted as a true freshman and played sparingly in 2020 before claiming a first-team spot in 2021. Ollie started every game last season and registered 301 yards and a touchdown on 26 catches. He tallied 140 combined yards in his final two games of the year.

The 6-3, 212-pound Ollie had a productive start to the 2022 season, recording 263 yards and two touchdowns on 24 catches across WSU’s first four games of the year. He was mostly a non-factor during the back half of the season, managing 158 yards and one TD on 12 catches over the Cougars’ last six games.

WSU must overcome a shorthanded receiving corps when it meets Fresno State on Dec. 17 in the Jimmy Kimmel L.A. Bowl.

True freshman Leyton Smithson will likely see his responsibilities expand. The Bellingham product made four starts at outside receiver to make up for the absence of veteran slot receiver Renard Bell, who missed four games with an injury. Stribling shifted to the slotback position for a few games in relief of Bell.

Smithson registered 217 yards and two touchdowns on 27 catches. Freshman Tsion Nunnally (66 yards, six receptions) will presumably be asked to step up at outside receiver after taking on a limited workload during the regular season. Junior Lincoln Victor (216 yards, 21 receptions) saw time at both the slot and outside receiver positions this year.

Bell will not be available for the game and has concluded his collegiate career, coach Jake Dickert confirmed last week. Senior slotback Robert Ferrel, the Cougs’ No. 2 receiver this year (517 yards, four TDs, 46 catches), indicated over Twitter earlier this week that he will play in the L.A. Bowl to wrap up his one-year stay at WSU.

Assuming Stribling and Ollie don’t have a change of heart and elect to return, the Cougs will need to replace four first-team receivers next season.

Since WSU’s regular-season finale on Nov. 26, 10 Cougar players have announced their intentions to transfer. The NCAA transfer portal is affecting teams across the country. Pac-12 rival Oregon, for instance, has lost 15 players to the portal in the past week.

Approximately 700 players entered the portal Monday – a record for most in a day, surpassing the previous high of 270 on Nov. 21, according to SportSource Analytics. The NCAA transfer portal window officially opened Monday morning.

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