BACK IN MARCH, I was driving along with my dog in the cab of my truck, nearing Page, Ariz., when my cell phone rang. One of the honchos at Cougfan.com called to ask if I’d like to write for the website. I can’t remember if I agreed right away or agreed later, the point being that I did agree at some point, and off we went.
It seemed like the perfect relationship – a writer who rips everything Husky and praises (most) everything Coug working for a website that obsesses on crimson. It was perfect until I screwed it up.
I haven’t written a Cougfan story for almost three months. I’ve got all kinds of excuses for that, none of which are good ones. In a nutshell, I’m a slacker who frequently lacks motivation. It’s not that I don’t have the time – fercripesake, I’m unemployed.
Instead of dumping my lazy butt, CF.C has been kind enough to give me a second chance. So I want to make the most of it. I want to make a big splash with a big first-story back.
GO 2 GUY JIM MOORE|
That’s why I called Reid Forrest the other day. As you must know by now, he’s our punter. I say you must know him because we’ve sure seen a lot of him the past two years. How many times has Martin Stadium PA announcer Glenn Johnson said: “Reid Forrest is back in punt formation?”
Last season he booted the ball 77 times. The number would have been an NCAA-leading 86, but Forrest was out with injury to start the season so Dan Wagner pinch-kicked eight times. (The "team" is also credited with one punt on the official stats from the '08 season.)
I have no idea how a profile of a punter qualifies as a big story, and it usually doesn’t, but what do you truly know about this guy? Before talking to him, the only thing I knew about Forrest is that I’d like to see less of him. If that happens, it means the Cougars are moving the ball again, and Forrest says it’s a definite possibility.
“We’re going to surprise a lot of people this year,” said the redshirt junior from Ephrata. “People are going to notice from the first play to the last play. There’s a size difference, and the guys will be playing with passion through and through.”
Spending the summer in Pullman as an apartment inspector while polishing his punting skills, Forrest also praised the coaching staff, saying: “We’ve got a lot of stuff going in right direction with a lot of positive things to come. The overall attitude of the team has changed.
“Coach (Wulff) and his staff…it’s unbelievable how organized they are. They’re getting guys to buy in and hold each other accountable.”
Forrest first arrived in Pullman as a walk-on who was used to being the guy in charge. He was a pitcher, point guard and quarterback at Ephrata High.
He had taken an official visit to Holy Cross to play quarterback, but all they offered was grant money, and it wasn’t enough to make him enroll on the East Coast.
“I was going to come to Washington State no matter what, unless I got an offer from another big-time school,” Forrest said. “My dad’s a Coug. I figured if I got cut, I’d still be a Coug, or I’d make it as a Coug.”
His dad, Jim Forrest, was a very good tight end for the Cougs from 1970-72.
Reid said if Washington had offered him a scholarship, he would have turned it down and walked-on at Washington State, just like he did.
“Really?” I asked.
“Wouldn’t that be weird to go home for Christmas?” he said. “Come on.”
At one of his first practices, Forrest had a reality check when he took his first hit as a receiver.
“I realized (playing at this level) was no joke,” Forrest said.
So when then-coach Bill Doba told him to punt, Forrest agreed without complaining.
“I was perfectly OK with it,” he said.
When Forrest first got on the field two years ago, he was a “rugby” punter, rolling out to his right and sending the ball downfield, end over end. It was never a beautiful sight, but it was pretty effective.
“Personally, it was not what I was prepared for, but it’s what the coaches asked me to do,” Forrest said. “I was willing to do anything to help my team out.”
Last year Forrest rugby punted less frequently, and had two fakes out of that formation, one that led to a first down in the Apple Cup.
“Generally I have the green light to run it or kick it,” Forrest said.
This season Forrest will rely most often on conventional punting. His goals – no punt returns for touchdowns, a good net average (38 yards or higher) and fair catches inside the 20.
Forrest went to three punting camps this summer and learned several styles from all of them. He plans to take different aspects from what he learned and incorporate them into his own punting this year.
Forrest said the NFL “is definitely a dream of mine.” If that doesn’t work out, the public relations major wants to organize events for companies. When asked how he’s doing with his grades, Forrest said: “Good…good enough.”
He spends much of his free time golfing but doesn’t know what his handicap is, saying he’s a better driver than putter. He also doesn’t keep score when he plays.
Forrest sounded like a great kid, one that I’d like to see standing on the sideline and not on the field.
Jim Moore is a WSU graduate who wrote for the Seattle P-I for three decades until its demise earlier this year. These days he also writes for seattlepi.com and can be heard this Thursday with John Peoples on ESPN 710 Seattle from 6 to 9 p.m. talking about golf. His next story for Cougfan.com will be a profile of senior tight end Tony Thompson.