Cougs' Bucannon packing even more of a wallop

BUCANNON ON PACE TO REACH 350-PLUS CAREER TACKLES

PULLMAN – Few players have the kind of college career that senior safety Deone Bucannon has seen at WSU. He's on pace to finish his crimson tenure with 350 tackles-plus, many of which have been slobber-knockers. The growth exhibited by Bucannon over the years, both physically and mentally, isn't just noteworthy, it's a benchmark to be measured against for those to come.

Motivational author Marvin Phillips once wrote, "The difference between try and triumph is a little umph." Well, Bucannon's tackles pack more than a little umph, oomph or whatever you want to call it.

And it's safe to say he's put the work in to make it become so.

As a prep safety, the 6-1, 180-pound Bucannon didn't even crack the top 100 at his position in Scout.com's recruiting rankings. Four years later, the Fairfield, Calif. product out of Vanden High is well on his way to becoming an early selection in the 2014 NFL draft at Washington State.

AS A FRESHMAN in 2010, Bucannon earned the opportunity to start alongside senior Chima Nwachukwu. But he may not have had the chance to shine as early as he did had another player not fallen on hard times.

Then a third-year sophomore, safety LeAndre Daniels played in just two games as a freshman before breaking his leg. In those two games, Daniels was laying the wood on the field and had the Coug faithful excited for his future.

But his future didn't even get a chance to begin. Before Daniels could play a down in 2010, he suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck, and his career was over.

The injury opened the door for the young, slight Bucannon. He was raw, but he was a good tackler, possessed good instincts and the force he hit with belied his size. He ended up leading the team in tackles as a true freshman that season (84), and the rest is history.

WE'RE ONLY ONE game into the 2013 season for WSU but already, CougFans have seen a new beast in Bucannon.

There will be some who debate as to whether one or more of Bucannon's tackles were by-the-letter against Auburn, he went into some tackles on the high side, but there's little question that the effect they have is something coaches love.

Is wrapping your arms around a man's neck and shoulder-area legal in a tackle? Yes.

Is throwing a man to the ground by his shoulder pads legal? Sure -- just so long as you're strong enough to do it.

Bucannon off the field is as pleasant as they come but his playing style can be characterized as callous. It's merciless, ruthless. The way Bucannon brings a ball-carrier to the ground can be downright brutal.

Does he always use the proper form? No, all big hitters stray from that on occasion. But is he getting the job done, making a statement doing so and having an effect on how the hit-ee plays the rest of the way? You betcha.

IN LESS THAN four years, Bucannon has tacked on 35 pounds of dense, lean Buffalo meat to his 6-1 frame. With his size and speed, and now checking in at 215 pounds, Bucannon looks primed to become an early-round draft pick in next year's NFL draft, reinvigorating notions of DB-U on the Palouse.

It's still very early, but Bucannon is already catching the eye of several NFL scouts and cyber gurus. CBSSports.com contributor Rob Rang had this recent review for the hard-hitting Coug.

With innovative offensive minds Mike Leach and Gus Malzahn leading the way for the Washington State Cougars and the hosting Auburn Tigers, one couldn't have blamed scouts for expecting a player from that side of the ball to make the big impression. Instead, it was Washington State's senior free safety Deone Bucannon who proved the most impactful prospect in this game.

You can read Rang's full review here.

CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com currently has Bucannon slated as the seventh-best free safety prospect in the land (including underclassmen) and a potential 4th-5th round pick. Don't be surprised if those numbers adjust upward by season's end.

NOTABLE NOTE:
Bucannon is 18 tackles away from moving into the Cougs' all-time career top ten. "Buc" has 284 tackles, with Ron Childs (1991-94) tenth with 302 takedowns. Within reach this season for Bucannon is a possible climb to the fourth spot all-time, currently manned by John Rushing (343 tackles, 1991-94).

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