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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Inside the journey of Jamorri Colson, the WSU cornerback playing his way into more opportunities

PULLMAN – Jamorri Colson’s favorite place to eat back home, a small town in southern Georgia called Ocilla, is Hibachi Buffet.

Years before he became a cornerback at Washington State, before he spent three years at an Iowa junior college and played his way into a scholarship at WSU, he was a high school player who couldn’t stay away from the local Japanese spot.

There, Colson would order the chow mein and orange chicken. It’s like Benihaha, he said, but less fancy.

“It’s my favorite food,” Colson said.

Colson is a native of Ocilla – where he piled up 20 interceptions in high school – a place so small it has only two traffic lights. But it’s only a 12-minute drive away from the bigger town of Fitzgerald, a sprawling metropolis of 9,000, so Colson would make the drive for the food.

In Pullman, Colson said, the closest thing to Fitzgerald’s Hibachi Buffet is Panda Express. It’s not the same, but it does a good imitation.

If Colson replicates what he did in Washington State’s last game, coming off the bench for a timely interception in a loss to Stanford last weekend, his coaches might owe him a plate from Hibachi Buffet.

To say Colson, a redshirt sophomore product of Iowa Western Community College, came in cold during last weekend’s game would be to make a giant understatement. He was making just his third appearance of the season. In his previous two cameos, late-game opportunities against Colorado State and Arizona, he played four and seven snaps, respectively.

To get the chance to play 25 against Stanford, the stars aligned – just not the way Colson envisioned. WSU starting cornerback Chau Smith-Wade remains out with an injury, and during practice last week, backup Javan Robinson turned his ankle. That prompted Stephen Hall to fill in against Stanford, but when he piled up a few penalties, Colson took his place.

All Colson did was play well enough to earn Pro Football Focus’ best coverage grade among Pac-12 cornerbacks for Week 10, an 86.1 figure. He did not allow a catch on the three occasions he was targeted. He did miss one tackle, but he made up for it with an interception, snagging one to set up the Cougars’ offense in pristine field position at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“We was in Cover 2. I was reading them two receivers,” Colson said, “and he tried to run a little corner route. So I got my eyes to the quarterback, ran underneath that route – and boom. I was like, he’s throwing it.

“I was excited. I was very excited. First career interception for Washington State. It was pretty cool.”

Colson’s pick, a game-turning play and a surge of confidence for a backup, also does a nice job illustrating the Cougars’ situation at cornerback. It was the first interception by a WSU cornerback this season. It was also Washington State’s first takeaway in five games – a full month.

If WSU’s bill of health improves for its next game, a road test against Cal on Saturday, Colson may not get the opportunity he did against Stanford. Smith-Wade and Robinson practiced on Wednesday, WSU head coach Jake Dickert said, so they could return to action this weekend.

The Cougars would welcome them back in a heartbeat, of course, but there could still be a spot for Colson. In Smith-Wade and Robinson’s absences, the majority of cornerback reps went to Cam Lampkin and Kapena Gushiken, the latter of whom had what looked like an easy pick-six bounce off his hands. Maybe there’s still a place for Colson in WSU’s secondary, regardless of the Cougars’ health at the position.

If there is, Washington State fans will need to understand where Colson came from.

His is a fascinating journey. Out of high school in Ocilla, Colson fielded offers from a bevy of power-conference schools, including West Virginia, Colorado, South Carolina, Auburn, Tennessee, Miami and Iowa. Originally, Colson committed to Middle Tennessee State, because that was his first offer – and his eyes got big.

“I was just trying to lock in a spot, to be honest,” Colson said. “It was my first offer, and I just took it and ran with it.”

Later, though, Colson began to reassess. He received several offers after that one. He backed out of his pledge, decommitting from Middle Tennessee State and reopening his recruitment.

As he sifted through his other options, though, Colson soon understood his route to other schools from which he had offers wasn’t exactly clear. He ran into issues with his academics, which prevented him from going from high school to someplace like Tennessee.

“I was very frustrated,” Colson said, “because I could have got what I needed and just went straight to a Power Five, but then again, I’m not mad at my mistake. Like, people make mistakes in life.”

For Colson, it was off to junior college.

“To be honest, I didn’t even know what (junior college) was at first,” Colson said.

He learned by earning a spot on Iowa Western’s team. This was in 2020, square in the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic, so the Reivers didn’t play that fall. They played a season the following spring, during which Colson registered six tackles, one fumble recovery, one interception and three pass breakups.

Colson redshirted the following season, the fall of 2021, so the real fun began a year later. As he led Iowa Western to the NJCAA national championship, he earned all-conference first-team honors, pairing 25 tackles with 10 pass breakups. That helped him earn a three-star prospect rating and ESPN.com’s fourth-best junior college cornerback rating for his class.

“One of the best feelings I ever had,” Colson said. “I think I committed to Washington State that week.”

Sure enough, that’s about when a coach from a school he previously had an offer from, Troy, gave Colson a call.

“Me and Coach Brown kept a good relationship throughout the years,” Colson said. “So we just stayed in contact.”

That would be Ray Brown, Washington State’s cornerbacks coach. Brown coached the corners at Troy from 2019-2020, when Colson graduated from high school. Brown liked Colson’s tape. He still liked it in 2022, when he was coaching at WSU, so he recruited Colson again.

This time, Colson could say yes. If he keeps playing like he did last weekend, he might end up saying it more often.