The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

New faces shine in first Cougar Spring scrimmage

A mix of transfers and names not often mentioned shined in the first gridiron action of 2024
John Mateer tries to fit the ball in a seem against Northern Colorado, Sept. 16.

The 2024 football season will be one with more turnover than one could imagine. From a nearly entirely new slate of opponents to a plethora of new skill players, WSU is a different team than a year ago. After two weeks of practices, new faces claimed the spotlight in the Cougs’ first football scrimmage of Spring camp.

Amid an up-and-down quarterback battle between returning junior John Mateer and senior Bryant transfer Zevi Eckhaus, the receivers still flashed potential Saturday morning.

Kris Hutson, a senior receiver who transferred from Oregon, led all pass catchers with 68 receiving yards on four catches, including grabs of 26 and 31 yards.

Tony Freeman, a sophomore JUCO transfer from College of San Mateo made an athletic 27-yard touchdown catch behind the left endzone pylon, to be another new face standing out Saturday.

“He’s been a lightning bug in there. He hit 20 miles per hour in pads the other day, that is flying. And to track that ball [on the touchdown catch] over his shoulder, he is a vertical track player a la Renard Bell a little bit,” head coach Jake Dickert said.

Even with the performances of Hutson and Bell came miscues on the offensive side of the ball. Both Mateer and Eckhaus each had one interception, and missing three of four projected starting offensive linemen, the run game never fully developed.

“There’s no other option. We need to get the run game going. We got four tailbacks, I think we’re capable. We got to start taking those learns as the offensive line and getting it out there and there’s a physicality to it. We need to be tougher and it starts up front,” Dickert said. “You’ll get from me a no-excuse approach, I don’t care who’s in there. Toughness is a mentality it isn’t talent.”

Between the two QBs competing, Dickert previously said throughout camp that they may run two QB looks even into the regular season until one of the two earns the job. Both had flashes of excellence Saturday, but both have much more work to do.

“Through six practices John turned the ball over too much, and I’d say that repeatedly if he was here too. We got to be better,” Dickert said. “I thought Zevi was savvy. He’s very pocket conscious … Operations-wise. I like where they’re at mentally, I think they’re both great leaders, but it’s gonna be a long journey as we go.”

A key factor in some of the offensive struggles can be credited to the efforts of the Cougar defense. With so many new faces across the board, it was a returner who made plays early on the defensive front for WSU.

Senior edge Andrew Edson recorded a sack and a tackle for loss on the same drive ultimately helping grind it to a halt. The second to last play of that same drive was another impressive newcomer who came up big in Jaylon Edmond, who broke up a pass intended for Freeman.

The freshman nickel corner Edmond stamped his name on two total pass breakups and a tackle for loss as well. The hit came on a much larger opponent in tight end Billy Reviere, showcasing Edmond’s tenacity.

“He missed the first couple practices so to come out with these last three and then go out there and perform like he did today, very proud of that kid,” Dickert said. “He is a bulldog and he’s athletic as heck.”

And perhaps the biggest impact defensively came from Akron transfer Tyson Durant. The senior defensive back recorded an interception and broke up a pass while patrolling the defensive secondary for the majority of the scrimmage.

“There’s not a moment so far that’s been too big for him. He learning a new defense in a new position and he’s really adapted to everything we’ve had. Love his energy, such a positive person to be around, and just really happy he’s on our football team,” Dickert said.

Perhaps the biggest play Tyson Durant made to show his overall skillset was a run stop against freshman running back Wayshawn Parker who is known for being a physical finisher. The two met at the one-yard line on a handoff from the two with Durant stopping Parker in his tracks after he had leveled a defender earlier in the scrimmage.

For Durant, defending the pass has always been his strong suit, but he got to show off his all-around game which he tries to model after Houston Texans safety Jalen Pitre, he said.

“Not the biggest safety, but still come with that mentality like Dickert says. I want to be a Swiss army knife. I want to be able to be all around the field. I don’t want to get taken out in a goal-line package. So I just want to show [the coaches] what I’m capable of,” Durant said.

Saturday was just the base package, Dickert said. Now practices seven through 11 will lead up to the next scrimmage on practice 12, where faces new and old will get another chance to make their marks on 2024 early in Spring camp.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor
Luke Westfall is a junior in Broadcast News from Custer, WA. He is an avid fanatic of the many sports at many levels who spends all his available time indulging in them. Luke began working at the Evergreen in Spring 2022.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.