Wulff bringing in eclectic group of walk-ons

JACK GALA

ONE IS A stout center who might first earn his way onto the field as a long snapper. Another was headed to a Pac-10 foe a few years back before going the JC route. One other declined a scholarship offer elsewhere in order to attend Washington State. These are just three of the known invited walk-ons who look to take the field when the Cougars open their first fall camp under Paul Wulff on Aug. 5.

Kevin Farmer, C/LS, Aptos, CA, (6-2, 285)
Farmer spent the last month-plus in Pullman but like most walk-ons, is waiting for paperwork to clear and did not enroll in summer classes. Farmer was named first team Santa Cruz Coast League as a senior for his work on the offensive line but he also has strong long snapping skills -- he could first earn his way onto the field at Washington State there. He took official visits to Hawaii and SMU this past winter, and Arizona State, Hawaii and others also offered him preferred walk-on status before Farmer chose WSU. Brother Danny plays fullback at Hawaii.

Zack Tatman, OL, Sprague, OR, (6-5, 300) Tatman is a former highly regarded Sprague High tight end, originally planned to walk-on at Oregon State before going the junior college route. Now checking in at 6-5 and 300 pounds, he figures to play offensive line at Washington State. It was unclear at press time if Tatman has three years of eligibility or two.

Tyler Thompson, LB, Shafter, CA, (6-3, 195)
His prep coach at Shafter fielded interest from USC, Nebraska, San Diego State and others this past recruiting year. Statistics for his senior season were incomplete at press time -- through four games he had already tallied 57 tackles, an average of 14.3 per with a high of 19 sticks. He is also an all-area track and field athlete, and was the South Sequoia League champion in the 200 (22.93), high jump (6-2), long jump (21-4) and triple jump (46-11) this past spring.

Jack Gala, OL/DL, Mercer Island, (6-4, 255)
A second team All-Kingco selection the past two seasons at Mercer Island, Gala's specialty is drive blocking on offense, pass rushing on defense. He's also an excellent student in the classroom.

Kyle McCartney, DB, Edmonds-Woodway,
An All-WesCo South quarterback and defensive back as a junior and senior. Invited to walk on at Washington State as a DB. He led Edmonds-Woodway to two consecutive trips to the Class 4A state semifinals. As a junior, he was featured in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" after completing 13 of 15 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-7 win over Mountlake Terrace.

Conner Maloney, DB/WR, Las Vegas, NV, (6-2.5, 200)
Maloney is an all-state safety who was part of state championship football and basketball teams at Faith Lutheran High. Also an accomplished wide receiver, he played quarterback and linebacker over his prep career. He drew recruiting looks from Notre Dame, Washington, Nevada and others this past season.


KEVIN BAFFNEY

Jarred Walker, DB, Moses Lake, (6-2.5, 190)
A unanimous first-team All-Columbia Basin 4A defensive back, Walker chose to walk on at Washington State rather than accept a scholarship to Eastern Washington. A physical player with a penchant for hard hits, he was also a star hoops player for Moses Lake.

Kevin Baffney, LB, Walla Walla, (6-2, 215)
He was named Class 2B state Player of the Year for 2007 by the Associated Press and also earned first-team all-state honors at quarterback and safety as a senior. He will play linebacker at WSU, where he also played during his prep career. He led DeSales to a perfect 13-0 season in '07, throwing for 1,964 yards and 26 TDs on the season with only three picks. Also a standout pitcher in baseball.

Brandon Jones, CB, Seattle, (5-9.5, 178)
Will sit out the 2007 season after transferring from Cal. Coming out of O'Dea, he was a member of Cal's 2006 class, signing with the Bears over offers from UW, Oregon and others. He is a strong candidate to earn a scholarship at Washington State before the 2009 season and has had an outstanding showing during the Cougs' summer workouts.

WASHINGTON STATE AND other schools limited to 105 players until the first day of class, which usually gives the Cougs room to invite somewhere around 10 preferred walk-ons for the start of fall camp. The day classes start in late August, a good sized influx of additional walk-ons will suit up and join the team.

Wulff has said the Cougs will recruit walk-ons with much the same effort as they recruit scholarship players -- the plan he outlined the day he was hired was to build the strongest walk-on program in the state.

An old Husky coach, Jim Lambright, was give the boot shortly after he criticized the practice performance of his scout team leading up to a bowl game -- some Husky fans today still deride him for making excuses for the bowl game loss. The thing is, Lambright was right.

The better the walk-ons, the stronger the scout team, the higher the level of competition week in and week out for the starting units and the more prepared the team is on Saturdays.

And then there's always the guys who start as walk-ons, end up earning a scholie and becoming a significant contributor on gameday, a phenomena the Cougar Nation has seen oft-repeated over the years in the persons of Mike Shelford, Mawuli Davis, Scott Lunde, Shawn Tims, Cory Withrow and many more.

Some of the preferred walk-ons listed above may just follow that same path.


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