PERUSING THE LATEST update to the Cougars’ 2006 football roster, a number of developments stand out. Foremost, incoming defensive end Ansley Clevil has changed his last name to Jean-Jacques. Same height and weight as before, just a new name for the jersey. Meanwhile, three second-year Cougs -– no doubt looking for every possible edge -- have switched to numbers with storied crimson roots.
Linebacker Jason Stripling, No. 50 last season, is moving up one digit and taking over legendary Will Derting’s No. 51. Defensive end Lance Broadus, No. 97 in 2005, is now No. 9 – the same number worn for three outstanding seasons by DE Isaac Brown. And punter Darryl Blunt, No. 39 last year, is sliding into Kyle Basler’s ol' No. 8.
For you youngsters out there, No. 8 also was worn at WSU by Mel Hein, the College and NFL Hall of Famer believed by many to be the greatest center who ever played the game of football. Hein is one of only two Cougars to have his number retired (the other is Jack Thompson, No. 14). So why then did Basler and does quarterback Arkelon Hall wear that number, along now with Blunt this season?
Because when WSU retired Hein’s number they inexplicably picked 7, a number Hein made famous in his 15 brilliant seasons with the New York Giants –- but a number he never wore while in Pullman. OK, enough of the history lesson.
Other observations from looking at the Cougars’ latest roster:
* In addition to changing numbers, Broadus has changed his weight. He’s bulked up to 226 from 211 a year ago.
* Another guy who has bulked up over the winter is starting offensive right tackle Charles Harris. The senior-to-be from Spokane now checks in at 323, up 15 pounds from last season.
* Going the other direction on the scale, JC transfer tight end Jason Price, who is built like a Humvee, is listed at 230 pounds, down from the 256 reported last fall by his junior college. Another JC transfer whose dimensions are a bit different than originally reported is cornerback Markus Dawes. He’s listed as 5-11, 190, rather than 6-0, 200.
* QB Arkelon Hall was praised in the spring by Timm Rosenbach for following strength coach Rob Oviatt's workout plan so well. The result is visible on the new roster. Hall has streamlined himself from a bulky 224 down to a sleek 203.
* The number 88, last seen streaking into the end zone with the winning touchdown in the Apple Cup, has made the rounds since Trandon Harvey’s dramatic conclusion to his Cougar career. JC transfer Finas Rabb wore the number in spring drills but is now ticketed for No. 3, with incoming freshman receiver Anthony Houston of San Diego inheriting 88.
* Other notable number changes: Brandon Gibson from 86 to 4; Courtney Williams from 34 to. 6; Jacob McKinney from 45 to 54; DeWayne Patterson from 30 to 21; and Adam Hineline from 77 to 65.
My guess is that Gibson's move to 4 has something to do with his days at Puyallup's Rogers High. He wore No. 5 then. That number is taken on the Cougs by a kid named Michael Bumpus, so Gibson must have figured 4 was the next best thing.
WHILE ON THE SUBJECT OF NUMBERS, the NFL’s strict policy about which positions can wear which numbers means that star running back Jerome Harrison will no longer sport No. 1. The NFL says running backs and defensive backs must wear numbers between 20 and 49. As such, Jerome is now No. 35 for the Cleveland Browns. Word out of New Orleans is that the Saints are trying to find a way around the ruling so Harrison’s fellow All-American RB, Heisman winner Reggie Bush, can retain No. 5.
In Pullman, meanwhile, Harrison’s old number will be going to a guy who has the credentials to continue the proud tradition. JC transfer Derrell Hutsona will be wearing No. 1 for the Cougars in 2006. Hutsona, a close friend and one-time prep teammate of Bush’s, was a JC All-American last season at Grossmont College, where he racked up a whopping 2,534 all-purpose yards.
SPEAKING OF ALL-AMERICANS, hat’s off to Cougar senior outfielder Jay Miller of Bellevue who last week was named third-team All-America by Louisville Slugger. He finished the year batting .361 and concluded his career as WSU’s hits leader with 308 – a number that puts him in the top 10 in Pac-10 history.
Congratulations also are in order for Cougar freshman pitcher/outfielder Jared Prince, who last week became the first-ever WSU freshman to earn All-Pac-10 first-team honors. He joined Miller on the first unit. Prince led the Pac-10 in hitting with a .401 average and was third in RBIs with 58. Pitching, he was 6-2 with a 4.53 ERA.
Cougar head football coach Bill Doba took a moment last week at the King County Cougar Club golf tournament to express his appreciation for the outpouring of support he received following the passing of his wife Judy. He also noted that more than $10,000 in memorials to Judy was donated to the Pullman Regional Hospital Auxiliary's Patient Comfort Unit, the United Way of Pullman and St. Thomas More Chapel and Newman Center.
Two Cougar seniors-to-be who could very well be first-round picks in next year’s NFL draft, receiver Jason Hill and defensive end Mkristo Bruce, this week were named to the preseason All-Pac-10 first team as picked by the Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook.
Former Cougar defense end Reyshawn Bobo has transferred to Montana State and Aaron Klovis, a touted lineman from Spanaway who chose Oregon a couple of years ago following a tough recruiting battle with WSU, is transferring to Idaho State.
The Quote of the Week comes from Mariners PA announcer Tom Hutyler. While serving as emcee at last week’s dinner following the King County Cougar Club golf tournament he said: “If my kid spent as much time at homework as he does on Cougfan.com he'd be an A student!" To which I say, bravo for the kid -- but what about you Tom?