We're only about a month behind, but since it's the offseason, there's no real rush to wrap-up football stuff. After all, we've got another three months to survive, and with news scarce, we're going to play around a bit. But first, it's probably time to put a bow on the spring.
Spring football is a time for some of the new guys to shine. They may not be redshirt players, but "new guys," in this instance, is anyone who has previously flown under-the-radar. Some have seen the field, some have been in hiding and others appear poised for a breakout season.
With that in mind, here's a few players that stood out during the spring. It's by no means a complete list, but is a starting point as we wait for fall camp to roll around.
Logan Mayes: I'm still over here trumpeting Logan Mayes and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Mayes seemed like the perfect fit for Mike Breske's defense and, sure enough, he was once they got onto the field. He's behind Travis Long for obvious reasons, but Mayes brings a strong pass-rushing ability off the edge -- his sack numbers throughout the spring were eye-opening.
Last year, he was an undersized edge rusher used a situational lineman. This year, he'll slot right in to a role almost made for his skill set. He's athletic, quick and has a somewhat surprising understanding of leverage and rush moves.
Bobby Ratliff: He's seen plenty of time on the field, but was overshadowed by Marquess Wilson, Jared Karstetter, Isiah Barton and Kristoff Williams. But this spring, in the friendly confines of a pass-happy offense, Ratliff looked solid. He was fairly consistent throughout the spring, making sure-handed catches from his inside receiver spot mixed in with some spectacular grabs. The depth at receiver is getting better, and Ratliff is part of the reason why.
Dominique Williams: It was actually tough to tell Williams and Wilson apart. They're about the same height, have nearly the same build and, making matters more complicated, wore their jerseys the same way. Williams is, to me, a baby Wilson -- younger, but very talented. He showed some of that talent in the spring game and will almost certainly be in the rotation at outside receiver. Williams tends to lose focus once in a while -- much like what the coaches were harping on Wilson for -- but when he's on it's clear there's a lot of talent there.
Eric Oertel: Maybe it's the comfort of finally having a set position. Maybe it's the years of maturity he's gained, toiling in anonymity during his WSU career. Whatever the case, Oertel had a strong spring at SAM and, as of now, has that position locked up. He was everywhere, showing off his speed and agility while picking up the scheme quickly.
Darryl Monroe: I didn't even expect Monroe to practice, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him out on the field full-go. He did have to be shut down later in the spring, but while he was on the field he left quite the impression. He's physically imposing and certainly looks the part of a middle linebacker -- probably bigger and stronger than C.J. Mizell, in fact. And he hits like a ton of bricks. When he's completely healthy -- remember, it's only been about eight months since he tore his Achilles -- watch out.
David Gilbertson: Raise your hand if you thought David Gilbertson would be a standout before spring started. If your hand is up, stop lying. Gilbertson made the most of his opportunity and looked at ease in Mike Leach's offense. He's not the most physically gifted quarterback, but he was cerebral during the spring, making the right reads and throws more often than not. That doesn't mean he'll challenge for the starting job, or even the backup job, but if a bunch of things go wrong, I'd be relatively confident that he could step in and put out the fire right now.
Leon Brooks: Most probably only know Brooks as that lil' guy who fair catches punts. And he certainly is a lil' guy in a low-to-the-ground sense. But taking the whole punt returner thing out of the equation, Brooks was able to show his other skills during the spring. He was the best running back when it came to catching screens and getting upfield, reading his blocks along the way. He's sure-handed and seemed to have a good ability to read blocks and make the most out of Leach's spring game.
Daniel Simmons: I'm not sure what to make of the secondary or how it'll perform this coming season. To be honest, it's tough to glean a ton from practice, simply because the group was at a significant disadvantage -- injuries kept some players out, depth was on the thin side, they were facing an offense that threw the ball all over and all the while they were implementing a scheme. But the defensive backs did have their moments. Damante Horton scrapped quite a bit, working on his one-on-one cover skills. Deone Bucannon can still hit like a ton of bricks. Anthony Carpenter and Tracy Clark both saw time on the field thanks to injuries.
But Simmons stood out, if only for a few memorable plays. The diving catch he made when reaching back to snare a ball and getting a foot down before he fell out of bounds was one of the plays of the camp. But as a whole, the secondary needs to be consistent, and isn't there yet.
Andrei Lintz: We talked about him enough during the spring and by now he's no big secret. Lintz went from unsure of what his role in Leach's offense would be to a cornerstone of the passing attack. He's always been a solid route runner and his big frame provides the quarterback -- be it Jeff Tuel or Connor Halliday -- a nice target in the middle of the field. He did, however, have a few ball security issues at times that need to be worked out.
Mike Bowlin: If he could do everything, he probably would. As it stands, Bowlin will probably handle kickoffs and punts, with Andrew Furney taking the kicking duties. It's possible Bowlin will be the big-legged kicker for some of the longer field goals, but as of now he'll just be handling the other two facets of special teams. The young man is a hard-worker who, as we've all mentioned before, cannot sit still.