PULLMAN – If Washington State’s football team has any intentions on slowing down in the transfer portal, the Cougars haven’t shown it yet.
They added two more players Friday, both of whom previously played at Oregon: receiver Kris Hutson, who spent the past four seasons with the Ducks, and linebacker Keith Brown, who played his first two seasons at Oregon before spending last season at Louisville.
Hutson and Brown have two years of eligibility remaining, a WSU spokesperson confirmed. Both are on their official visits to WSU this weekend.
Hutson , a 5-foot-11 receiver from California and a four-star prospect out of high school, redshirted last season. In the 2021 and 2022 seasons, as a sophomore and junior, he combined for 75 catches for 472 yards and two touchdowns. He appeared in just one game last season, with one reception for 8 yards against Stanford.
In seasons past, he also emerged as a threat in the kick return game, totaling 12 kickoff returns for 238 yards and 10 punt returns for 42 yards in 2022. The year prior, he had 14 kickoff returns for 313 yards.
Late last season, sophomore wideout Leyton Smithson took one kickoff back 98 yards for a touchdown, but otherwise, the Cougars struggled to produce meaningful kick returns. WSU used outgoing receiver Isaiah Hamilton for most punt returns, and fellow graduated senior Lincoln Victor went back for some kickoff returns.
The Cougars’ 2024 receiver corps is also rounding into shape. They’ll return one starter, deep-ball specialist Kyle Williams, plus key sophomore Carlos Hernandez. WSU is also adding junior college transfer Tony Freeman and Austin Peay transfer Tre Shackelford. That should help them cushion the losses of Josh Kelly (transferred to Texas Tech) and Victor.
How Hutson fits into that mix remains to be seen. It’s possible that at 5-foot-11, he could fill the void at the slot position, using his speed to unlock the Cougars’ offense.
At Oregon, he split time between the slot and outside positions, finishing the 2022 season playing 55% of snaps in the slot and 44% on the outside, according to Pro Football Focus.
Brown’s addition also comes at a good time for WSU, which is trying to rebuild its linebacker corps. Graduated senior Devin Richardson is moving on, and rising senior Kyle Thornton struggled toward the end of the season. That’s where Brown could come in, playing alongside Buddah Al-Uqdah in the middle of the field.
Last week, WSU also added linebacker Parker McKenna, a transfer from FCS Portland State who has two years of eligibility remaining. All together, the Cougars should come back in 2024 with plenty of depth at the linebacker spot.
The 6-2 Brown, a consensus four-star prospect out of high school, played his first two seasons at Oregon, where he totaled 36 tackles. In 2022, he played in 12 of 13 games and started in the Holiday Bowl at the end of the season. He had seven tackles and one QB hurry in that contest.
Then he hit the transfer portal and moved on to Louisville, where he appeared in three games last season. He posted one tackle in his group’s win over Murray State in September. Brown also played 19 snaps on special teams in games against MSU, Indiana and Florida State.
Brown, a two-time transfer, would have needed a waiver to play immediately at WSU under previous NCAA rules. But thanks to a West Virginia judge’s ruling last month, undergraduate players can transfer multiple times and play immediately at their new schools, no waiver required.