Position battles on the horizon for WSU in spring football

After almost three months of working out and attending team meetings, the WSU football team will finally suit up and take the field for their first spring football practice Thursday afternoon.

“We’ve had a lot of enthusiasm. Guys have worked hard, so we’re excited about the opportunity we’ve had to improve, but we have a long ways to go and looking forward to continuing to move the needle here in the spring,” WSU football Head Coach Mike Leach said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Not only will the players have a chance to work with the coaches and improve their skillset, but spring ball will be the first step for players to get a chance to compete for a starting position.

“Everything’s a competition, people have the opportunity to beat one another out, and you’ll learn your job every day,” Leach said. “With that said the reps will be split up. Guys that are performing better will get more reps to try and further develop their skills.”

One of the biggest competitions that everyone will be keeping their eyes on this spring is the quarterback position.

WSU redshirt senior Connor Halliday enters the spring with the most experience out of all the quarterbacks listed on the roster. The Spokane native started all 13 games last season for the Cougars and guided the program to its first bowl game in 10 years.

After redshirting last season, freshman quarterback Tyler Bruggman will get a chance to compete for the starting job along with redshirt freshman quarterback Luke Falk.

“I think Bruggman and Faulk are both capable of pushing him (Halliday), both (players) really have a good skillset,” Leach said.

Leach and defensive coordinator Mike Breske will focus on the defensive secondary heading into spring ball. Sophomore cornerback Daquawn Brown and junior free safety Taylor Taliulu are the only returning starters from last season that played in the secondary.

“There’s plenty of jobs open there and I think the corner positions will be really competitive, I think the safety positions will too,” Leach said. “A bunch of people there haven’t played a lot and so they’ll be fighting it out to see who gets more playing time.”

After reports of Brown being arrested a couple weeks ago, the sophomore will suit up and be on the field on Thursday.

“We’re going to have to wait and see how everything unfolds,” Leach said. “Right now it’s appearing most of what’s come and spud around has been greatly embellished, so we’ll just have to see how all that comes out.”

Supplementing the returning players will be a lot of new faces for the Cougars this offseason. Freshman wide receiver Calvin Green and freshman cornerback Marcellus Pippins were a part of the 2014 recruiting class but have enrolled at WSU this semester and will get a chance to practice with the team this spring.

Former Texas A&M wide receiver Sebastian LaRue, who transferred to WSU in January, will also see his first action with the Cougars on Thursday. The freshman wide receiver is still waiting to hear back from the NCAA after appealing to play in this season and not be forced to sit out for a year.

“(He’s) really quick, seems to be pretty instinctive football wise,” Leach said. “The biggest thing is how explosive he is out of his cuts, and he does have some sense and knowledge on how to play wide receiver. Beyond that we just got to have the chance and work with him, where we’re allowed to have balls.”

There will also be players suiting up for the Cougars, trying to earn a roster spot and walk-on to the team as well this spring.

Including the Crimson and Gray game in Spokane in late April, the WSU football team will have 15 spring practices.