PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State University's receiving corps is to the Cougar offense what the linebacker unit is to WSU's defense, deep and talented. Not only do the Cougars return all of last year's starting wide receivers, including senior co-captain Nian Taylor, but a pair of highly touted junior college transfers and several redshirt freshmen join the ranks of their veteran teammates.
There could be, however, a notable change in the look of WSU's primary receivers this year. For the first time in years the Cougars can go BIG - as in tall. Taylor, who had 45 receptions last year, might be the shortest of WSU's receivers at 6-1 if Cougar coaches take the high road. Transfer Milton Wynn, who joined the team last spring, stands 6-3, while fall transfer Marcus Williams stretches the tape to 6-5.
"Milton Wynn and Marcus Williams are big, Randy Moss type players," says head coach Mike Price. "Their size is real important. We are seeing more receivers with size because they are often covered by a single defender."
Last year WSU used four primary receivers, Taylor (9 starts), Leaford Hackett (10), Jerry Roquemore (6) and Adam Davis (6), but only Taylor stood above 5-11.
Price and receiver coach Mike Levenseller are not about to abandon the cat-quick talents of receivers like Hackett, or a newcomer like Curtis Nettles, but they now have another option which could stand tall in the Cougar's bowl drive.
At tight end, WSU will rely on senior Corey Scott, who steps up to replace two-year starter Love Jefferson. Behind Scott is redshirt freshman Russell Mizin, although a couple of WSU's incoming freshman could challenge for playing time, including Josh Parrish and Josh Shavies.
NOTE: The list of former Washington State receivers now on NFL rosters numbers five, Phillip Bobo (Edmonton), Chris Jackson (Seattle), Love Jefferson (Chicago), Kevin McKenzie (Philadelphia) and Shawn McWashington (Kansas City).
PRICE ON RECEIVERS:
Wide Receivers: "We will add several freshmen and two outstanding junior college transfers to a group that returns three starters. Milton Wynn and Marcus Williams are big, Randy Moss type players. Their size is real important. We are seeing more receivers with size because they are often covered by a single defender. The bigger receivers can go get the ball over a corner when it is single coverage. I expect Nian Taylor and Leaford Hackett to have a fantastic senior year. Curtis Nettles (freshman) might be the fastest of all our receivers, while DeAndre Douglas (freshman) is a big, strong receiver like the transfers. This a strong area for the Cougars, probably our strongest area on offense.
Tight Ends: "This is a question mark area for us. Senior Corey Scott is leading and (freshman) Russell Mizin is second, but we are thin. We have some excellent (incoming) recruits who could come in and help us next year, players who had All-America type careers. This is an area where one or two new players could help us."
THE FACTS - RECEIVERS
LETTERWINNERS RETURNING (6): Adam Davis, 1V, RS-So., Leaford Hackett, 1V, RS-Sr., Jerry Roquemore, 1V, Sr., (TE) Corey Scott, 2V, RS-Sr., Co-Capt. Nian Taylor, 3V, RS-Sr., Farwan Zubedi, 2V, RS-Jr.
NON-LETTERWINNERS RETURNING (5): (TE) Myron DeBose, RS-Sr., DeAndre Douglas, RS-Fr., (TE) Russell Mizin, RS-Fr., Curtis Nettles, RS-Fr., Mike VanManen, RS-Fr.
TRANSFERS (2): Marcus Williams, TR-Jr., Milton Wynn, Tr-Jr.
IMPACT NEWCOMERS (3): SE Milton Wynn, TR-Jr., SB Curtis Nettles, RS-Fr., FL Marcus Williams, TR-Jr.
STARTERS RETURNING (3): FL Nian Taylor, Sr., SB Leaford Hackett, Sr., SE Jerry Roquemore, Sr., or Adam Davis, So.
BACKUPS RETURNING (1): TE Corey Scott, Sr.
STARTERS LOST (1): TE Love Jefferson.
EXPECTED STARTERS: FL Nian Taylor, Sr., SB Leaford Hackett, Sr., SE Farwan Zubedi, Jr., TE Corey Scott, Sr.