The search for the next quarterback

Coach Nick Rolovich narrows his quarterback decison down to three potential players



Redshirt sophomore Cammon Cooper threw for 147 yards in first scrimmage.

KURIA POUNDS, Evergreen reporter

With the WSU football season kicking off in less than two weeks, the battle for the starting quarterback position intensifies, narrowing the position down to three choices heading into the season.

The three main choices for the starting quarterback position are true freshman Jayden de Laura, redshirt freshman Gunner Cruz and redshirt sophomore Cammon Cooper. The fourth quarterback on the WSU roster is true freshman Victor Gabalis, from Everett, Washington.

WSU’s first scrimmage during training camp saw de Laura throw for 133 yards and complete 10 of 14 passes, including a 56-yard touchdown pass to true freshman wide receiver Joey Hobert, and a 13-yard rushing touchdown. Cooper threw for 147 yards, completing nine of 15 passes, including an interception and a 13-yard touchdown pass to Hobert.

Cruz threw the most and completed the most passes, going 11 for 18 for only 69 yards in the scrimmage and Gabalis completed eight of 16 passes for 70 yards.

Theo Lawson, of The Spokesman-Review, wrote in a tweet that Cooper and de Laura possibly have moved to the front of the quarterback race, after “solid showings” in the first scrimmage.

WSU offensive coordinator Brian Smith said even though Cooper and de Laura are at the forefront, it’s still a competition to find out who the starting quarterback will be.

“It’s still a battle,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of kids that are doing good things.”

The second scrimmage for WSU saw de Laura complete 10 of 13 passes for 46 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to redshirt senior wide receiver Renard Bell. De Laura also rushed for six yards on three attempts.

Cruz completed five of 15 passes for 49 yards and a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the scrimmage.

Cooper struggled during the scrimmage, only completing two of seven passes for 24 yards and threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown by redshirt junior defensive back Jaylen Watson.

Head coach Nick Rolovich said the quarterbacks did not play good after the second scrimmage and he does not want to spend the next two weeks developing a “wildcat offense.”

“I thought the offense had a much better first scrimmage,” Rolovich said. “Night and day.”

Cougar fans are used to the Air Raid offense that Mike Leach implemented at WSU since 2012, before he left in 2019. Fans usually expect the starting quarterback to be someone who can throw the ball 60 times a game, but under Rolovich, the quarterback competition will be more intriguing, since he brings a new offensive style to WSU.

Rolovich’s offensive system could element more of the run game, as well as option plays for the quarterback, which most people call a “run and shoot” offense. With this new offensive system that Rolovich is bringing to the Cougar offense, fans are left speculating on who the starting quarterback will be before the Nov. 7 season opener against Oregon State.

If I had to pick the starter, my guess would be de Laura right now. The true freshman from Honolulu already has some connection with Rolovich, since he coached at the University of Hawaii in 2016-2019.

Rolovich recruited de Laura from his high school, which is the same high school that former University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went to. Tagovailoa is now the current starter for the Miami Dolphins in the NFL.

Both de Laura and Cooper are leading the way as of now, but, with less than two weeks left until the potential decision date, the race is still anyone’s to win.