Introducing: New Cougs on the block

46 new people were added to WSU’s 2018 roster, here are names you need to know



Graduate transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew II scans the field for an open receiver during practice Wednesday at Rogers Field. Minshew transferred during the summer from East Carolina University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in communication.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

It’s a new school year, and for newcomers to WSU, it is important to get acquainted with roommates, classmates, frater-nity and sorority members.

And just as it is a new school year, it is a new football season as well, which makes it equally important to become familiarized with the new-comers to WSU football.

The five new coaches and 41 new student-athletes will be tasked with advancing a relatively new winning tradition that has led WSU to three consecutive bowl games and 19 conference wins since 2015. Here’s what you need to know.

Coaching staff

WSU Head Coach Mike Leach’s coaching staff has seen nearly as much turnover as his roster. Six of WSU’s top assistant coaches left the pro-gram for different jobs after the 2017 season, three of whom left to join other Pac-12 schools.

Of the 10 assistant coaches Leach is allotted, five are new to the program.

Among the new coaches, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys joined the Cougars’ staff in January 2017 after taking a year-long hiatus from coaching. Prior to WSU, he held a six-year tenure at the University of Minnesota where he spent four years as the defensive coordinator and two as the head coach.

Claeys has big shoes to fill in his first year, with his predecessor molding the Cougars’ defense from one of the worst in the country to a top-20 unit in total defense.

The freshman class

They have been regarded by some as the strongest recruiting class of Mike Leach’s seven-year tenure at WSU. Although they have yet to play a game in crimson and gray, they have already begun living up to the hype in fall training camp.

Freshmen quarterback Cammon Cooper and wide receiver Rodrick Fisher, two four-star recruits according to, headlined the 2018 recruiting class. But they are not the only freshmen for the Cougars who will turn heads.

Early enrollee freshman running back Max Borghi took his strong performance in the spring and has hit the ground running in the fall. New-comer wide receivers Drue Jackson and Kassidy Woods have been impressive through the Lewiston portion of training camp as well.

On the defensive side of the ball, freshmen defensive backs Halid Djibril and Patrick Nunn have made good first impressions and defensive tackle Ahmir Crowder has shown he can hang in the trenches despite his young age.

The transfers

Perhaps the single-most important name to be familiar with by September is at the top of the list. Although not being named starter yet, graduate transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew II has begun to distance himself in the race to be Leach’s signal-caller.

The transfers WSU has reeled in are poised to assist the Cougars beyond the quarterback position. Up front got some needed help by adding three defensive linemen to the team. Juniors Jonathan Lolohea and Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei will be the immediate help.

Sophomore Lamonte McDougle, the former freshman ESPN All-American defensive tackle from West Virginia Uni-versity, will sit out on the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer eligibility rules.

Last but certainly not least, the new group of transfers could potentially bring some stability to the Cougars’ punting unit. Senior wide receiver Kyle Sweet was the primary punter for all of 2017; the addition of three punters should help Sweet focus on receiving.