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5 Cougars to watch in spring ball
In alphabetical order, here are five Cougs who bear special watching come March 27: Junior receiver Brett Bartolone: After a head-turning 2012 freshman campaign in which he led the Cougs in receptions (53) and earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors, he all but disappeared in 2013. He played in just six games and caught 10 passes for reasons believed to be injury related. The presumption here is that he'll look to regain his place this spring at the H receiver spot, where a large cast, including veteran Rickey Galvin, will be competing. Sophomore corner Daquawn Brown: He had a big freshman season in 2013, posting 50 tackles and two interceptions while playing in every game and starting four. But 2014 will be a whole different environment because he won't be surrounded in the secondary by wily veterans like Damante Horton, Nolan Washington, Deone Bucannon, Casey Locker and Anthony Carpenter. Other than junior safety Taylor Taliulu, the Cougar secondary will be entirely young guns in 2014. Brown will need to step up his consistency and show greater maturity when deciphering when to take chances. He's had a great winter of workouts and looks to carry that progress to the field this spring. Sophomore guard/center Riley Sorenson: Coaches were so high on the 6-4, 304-pounder last season as a true freshman that they burned his redshirt early with an eye toward him cracking the starting lineup midway through. The progress plateaued and he played very little, but there is no getting around the fact he's one of the most intriguing youngsters among the Cougar hosses. He was the top-performer in practices among the young guns in 2013, can play guard or center, and has an open lane this spring to make his stand because the Cougs only return two starting offensive linemen (Gunnar Eklund at LT and Joe Dahl at LG) from last season. Junior linebacker Chester Sua: After appearing in all 24 games in 2011 and '12, and making a collective six starts, he sat out all of 2013 with what is believed to have been a back injury. He's now close to 100 percent healthy and could compete for time at both middle and weakside LB. With Darryl Monroe anchored at MIKE, the thinking here is that Sua and Tana Pritchard will wage a battle royale for the starting nod at WIL. Sua came to WSU in a 4-star robe of high expectations that have gone unfulfilled. D-coordinator Mike Breske believes he possesses big-time skills, and this spring will be his chance to prove it. Junior end Destiny Vaeao: He's moving full time to E this season from the BUCK, where he started 10 games and posted 24 tackles in 2013. Great size (6-6, 290) and agility add up to tremendous potential. He's flashed excellence but has had to fight through some injuries the past two seasons and has yet to attain that next level of impact. He showed an outstanding work ethic and leadership skills in winter conditioning sessions earlier this month. Breske calls him an explosive player on the verge of breaking out.
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