WSU Pre-Spring Glance, Cornerbacks

Over the last few weeks, Sean and I have brought you our Pre-Spring Glances at the various position battles on both sides of the ball (please note that our pre-spring glances can be found here for QB’s, here for running backs,  here for WR’shere for O-line and tight ends, here for linebackers, and here for a glance at the defensive line).

Today we will move into the secondary and take a look at it in two parts – corners and safeties.  We’ll go wtih the cornerbacks today, and the safeties on Monday to wrap this whole pre-spring glance thing up!

After the epic collapse that was the 2009-2010 Cougar basketball season on Wednesday (honestly I don’t know if I could handle the frustration and heartbreak that would come with a CBI game), I am getting stoked for the upcoming football season. 

One quick housekeeping item before we begin.  According to the folks over at Cougfan, WSU is the first to offer 2011 Quarterback prospect, Trent McKinney.  Take one look at his highlight tape, he is in that Vince Young power-runner mold, and could be an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on. 

He has a ways to go in the pure passing department, but he sure runs well!  Already hearing from USC, SMU, Oregon, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas A&M, and even a few of the Ivy League schools.  Sure would bring an interesting and exciting dimension to our offense!  Anyway, read on for a pre-spring glance at the cornerbacks…..

And before I begin, I am going to be very (kevin) frank; ok bad joke.  Some of the young kids on this list, well, I don’t know a ton about them.  They just haven’t logged much, if any, game time yet.  So if any of you out there have other information let us know in the comments.

And, yes, Brandon Jones, who started 11 out of 12 games last year, is gone, kicked out of the program.  But don’t worry, there’s plenty of talent ready and waiting…..

Projected Pre-Spring Starters
Daniel Simmons (RS So), 5’10”, 188 lbs:
Cracked the starting lineup as a redshirt frosh, starting four games, but then broke his fibia vs. ASU and was lost for the year.  I believe he showed the ability to be a legit cover corner in the Pac 10, and many who watched him closely last year agree.  The best news is that he was proclaimed as 100% healthy last month, so, he should be ready to roll later in the month.  And now with Brandon Jones out of the picture, he should be the leader of the corners.  An excellent athlete, Simmons was all-league in high school as a running back and a DB, and he also lettered in track and basketball out of Colony HS in Ontario, CA.

Terrance Hayward (RS So), 6’0″, 187 lbs: Still only 18 years old after coming to Wazzu at an extremely young age.  Played in 11 games as a redshirt frosh last year, starting four of the last five on the season, with 32 tackles, 3 for loss, and a couple of pass-breakups.   Listed as a pre-spring starter after a strong finish to 2009.

Back-ups
Aire Justin (RS Jr), 5’11”, 165 lbs:
Extremely undersized at this position in terms of weight, definitely reminiscent of Jason David in that regard. 

However, he had 34 tackles and a team high four pass-breakups last year with three starts last season, so he held his own when given the chance.  Could he fill the other starter spot with Jones’ departure?

Anthony Carpenter (RS Fr), 6’1″, 185 lbs: Highly touted prospect out of Gardena, California, and chose the Cougs over offers from Oregon State and Nebraska.  Worst case scenario he’ll be a primary backup when the season starts, depending on how the incoming freshmen like Tracy Clark may push him for playing time.  Excellent size, but also really fast, reportedly running a 4.4 40-time as a recruit.

Nolan Washington (RS Fr), 5’11”, 175 lbs: Another highly touted prospect out of Seattle’s Kennedy High School in Burien, who dubbed the Class of 2K9, “The Cream of the Crop”,  he could be the other primary backup.  Was wildly entertaining and confident when speaking at the recent Night With Cougar Football!  Chose Wazzu over ASU, Boise, and Minnesota.  Like Carpenter, he’s also quite fast, reportedly running a 4.4 40-time as a recruit.  Strong too, with a 415 squat and 34″ vertical leap, just the type of explosive athlete the secondary really needs! 

Out For Spring:
Anthony Houston (RS Sr), 6’3″, 205 lbs: Out for the spring as he recoups from a torn ACL last year.  Former wide receiver who made the move to defense last season, he played sparingly in eight games, recording just three tackles.  With the young talent ahead of him now eligible to hit the field, it’s hard to see Houston doing much more than he did in 2009.

Final Thoughts

A little bit thinner than I first imagined and the coaching staff would probably prefer as far as scholarship players are concerned, but the young talent like Washington and Carpenter to go with Hayward and Simmons makes for an excellent foundation.  The athleticism takes a big step forward with the new faces.  Just think, of those top five corners, Justin is the “veteran” as a junior.  I think the secondary will get tested a lot more this season, as our run defense should improve with the front seven.  This will be an important spring for Washington and Carpenter, and some real competition to watch at corner.  And with Anthony Houston out the entire spring, these five should get a ton of work (and will probably be pretty worn out by the end of April!).

That is all for today.  Try to put that Wednesday night hoops meltdown behind you.  We have nowhere to go, but…

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