PULLMAN – Cameron Ward has played his last snap as a Cougar.
He made that clear in a post Friday, announcing that he’s taking his talents from Washington State to the transfer portal, where as a graduate transfer he will be able to transfer elsewhere and play immediately.
Ward also shared that he will consider entering the NFL draft.
“We always knew this was gonna be the destination of what he was gonna be doing,” said WSU coach Jake Dickert, who added he doesn’t expect Ward to return to Washington State. “This is not a shock. This is not a surprise. We have always supported Cam. We support Cam and his decision today, and we support Cam in efforts going forward.”
Ward, who transferred from Incarnate Word ahead of the 2022 season and played two seasons at WSU, completed 67% of his passes this year for 3,732 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions, finishing fourth nationwide in regular-season yardage.
He finishes his WSU career with 6,963 passing yards (eighth in program history), 48 touchdowns (tied for seventh) and 16 interceptions.
Ward has received name, image and likeness (NIL) offers from schools worth around $1 million, according to Fox college football analyst Brock Huard, who called last weekend’s Apple Cup. The transfer portal does not officially open until Monday, but competing schools have not been shy about their efforts to nab Ward.
“Unfortunately or fortunately,” Dickert said, “we’ve created a college football environment through the NIL that provides opportunities for players that we can’t withstand here at Washington State. And that’s a hard water to navigate. And I’m very supportive on Cam, and he’s keeping all those options open as he continues to determine his future.”
Ward is the sixth Cougar to share his intent to enter the transfer portal this offseason – and the second starter, joining top receiver Josh Kelly, who made his announcement on Thursday.
Ward shined brightest during the Cougars’ 4-0 start to the season.
Ward struggled a bit from there, tossing his first two interceptions of the season in a loss to UCLA, which kicked off the Cougars’ six-game losing streak. In that stretch, he had trouble holding on to the ball, losing fumbles and winding up with 11 total – second most in the country.
He bounced back with a four-touchdown outing in WSU’s senior night win over Colorado, though, and he played well in the Cougars’ Apple Cup loss to No. 4 Washington last weekend, albeit with two interceptions.
“He’s the first Power Five head coach that I played for,” Ward said of Dickert after Saturday’s game. “So he means a lot in my life. He has a lot in my heart. He took a chance on me when a lot of coaches didn’t. I’ll forever owe that to him.”
Now the Cougars must find a new quarterback next season, which will include six games against Mountain West teams as part of a new scheduling agreement.
They could promote redshirt freshman John Mateer, this season’s backup who WSU used in QB run packages. They could also target portal entrees Sam Leavitt (Michigan State) or Adryan Lara (Kansas State), both of whom were once committed to Washington State.
To Dickert, it amounts to a big opportunity for Mateer, who completed 13 of 17 passes for 235 yards, two touchdowns and one interception – but who was used primarily as a rushing quarterback. The Cougars won’t hand him the keys without competition, Dickert said, and WSU’s QB room is thinning with redshirt freshman Emmett Brown announcing his intent to enter the portal on Friday.
But it’s clear Dickert has put a lot of thought into this: Mateer will get a serious look as next season approaches.
“He is gonna operate our offense at a really high, efficient level,” Dickert said, “to the degree that we want it run. But he’s gotta be himself. That was our first conversation that we had this week – I want him to be the best version of John Mateer, period.”