June 5, 2002
PULLMAN, Wash. --- Though media day for the Washington State football team isn't until Aug. 9., several publications like what they see already, picking the Cougars as high as No. 6 in national top 25 preseason polls.
The Sporting News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution both tabbed WSU as the No. 6 team in the land in their respective polls. Head Coach Mike Price's 14th squad was picked slightly lower by Darryl Richards of Fox Sports, coming in at No. 8. Stewart Mandel of CNN/Sports Illustrated picked the Cougars No. 11, while Lindy's tabbed WSU at No. 13, Athlon No. 15, and Dennis Dodd of CBS Sportsline No. 18.
The expectations within the Pac-10 are also high, as the Cougars are among the favorites for the conference crown. The Tacoma News Tribune is among the media outlets predicting a first-place finish for WSU.
The Cougars will be led next season by quarterback Jason Gesser, a Heisman Trophy candidate after throwing for 3,010 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2001. Gesser is listed as the nation's No. 5 quarterback by Tom Dienhart of The Sporting News, who also predicts Pac-10 offensive player of the year honors for the Hawaii native.
Senior offensive guard Derrick Roche is another Cougar garnering a lot of attention this offseason. Dienhart tabbed Roche the No. 3 offensive guard in college football and a second team preseason All-American. The Kent, Wash., native is also on the Lombardi Award watch list.
Other players Dienhart and TSN selected among the top 20 at their position in the country included Mike Bush (No. 16 wide receiver), Tyler Hunt (No. 11 center), Rien Long (No. 19 defensive tackle), Marcus Trufant (No. 17 cornerback), and Drew Dunning (No. 5 kicker). As a unit, the publication picked the Cougar offensive line as the sixth best nationally, and the defensive line ninth.
Washington State opens the season Saturday, Aug. 31 at Seahawk Stadium in Seattle against Nevada.