State of WSU football after first wave of transfers

12 players enter transfer portal after Apple Cup Game 



WSU wide receiver Lincoln Victor hypes up the crowd after a kickoff during an NCAA football match against California, Oct. 1.

JAKE HULL, Evergreen reporter

As of Thursday, 12 players have entered the transfer portal for the Cougs and will not be participating in the bowl game Dec. 17 against Fresno State.

With the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl game just over a week away the Cougs will be shorthanded and without some key position players, not due to injuries but because of the transfer portal.

Along with the transfers, the Cougs will lose defensive coordinator Brian Ward as he will be employed by the Arizona State Sun Devils as their defensive coordinator for the upcoming 2023 season.

Notable transfers for the Cougs so far are Francisco Mauigoa, Donovan Ollie, De’Zhaun Stribling and Travion Brown.

Mauigoa was a starting linebacker who made 60 total tackles on the season including 34 solo. Mauigoa had a 95-yard pick-six against the Oregon Ducks to cap his highlight reel. He also had 3.5 sacks on the season. He will be missed in the bowl game and next season. With the loss of Mauigoa and Daiyan Henley who is set to get drafted in the upcoming NFL Draft, the Cougs are in desperate need of new linebackers.

Another Coug linebacker who is in the portal is Brown. On the season he had 49 total tackles and 25 solo. He also had 1.5 sacks to help out both Henley and Mauigoa on the defensive end. The Cougs will be without three starting linebackers next season and two for the bowl game.

One potential player who could fill Mauigoa’s shoes at the LA Bowl is senior linebacker Ben Wilson who has nine tackles including six solo tackles on the season in a position dominated by Mauigoa and Henley. The other Coug remaining linebackers are either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores with little live-game experience, look for Wilson to play in LA.

The loss of both Ollie and Stribling on paper seems like a major hit to the program, but as Stribling had a somewhat off-season, other receivers stepped up late in the season which helped the Cougs get to where they are.

Ollie had 43 receptions for 491 yards and three touchdowns this season. The sophomore produced at a high level most of the season and will be tough shoes to fill for the bowl game and next season. Stribling on the other hand had 51 receptions for 602 yards and five touchdowns, the same as his freshmen campaign. He had more receptions and yards than last season but could not find the endzone that often. His last touchdown came Oct. 27 against the Utah Utes.

A Coug who has been producing as of late and can fill the void of Stribling and Ollie at least for a game is Leyton Smithson. He had 27 receptions for 217 yards and a touchdown this season. His touchdown was against the Arizona State Sun Devils. In the Apple Cup, he had seven catches for 58 yards against the Washington Huskies.

The Cougs will have to look to senior Robert Ferrel and junior Lincoln Victor to carry WSU on the offensive end. Ferrell, a transfer from Incarnate Word with quarterback Cam Ward has been nothing short of productive in his season with WSU. He had 46 catches for 517 yards and four touchdowns. He had a touchdown in the Apple Cup and will be the main target of Ward in the bowl game. Victor had 21 receptions for 216 yards and no touchdowns but was overshadowed by the other receivers this season. Victor should see more action in the bowl game and produce next season if he chooses to stay.

In the bowl game, the Cougs should look to Ferrell and the run game if they want to score points against a tough Fresno State team currently riding an eight-game winning streak. Current betting odds for the game have WSU with a 57.2% chance of winning.