James Snook-US PRESSWIRE
It's Senior Day in Pullman, and one final chance to give the seniors a sendoff.
So this is it. This is the end of the line for another group of seniors. On Friday -- just a hair before 12:30 p.m. -- another group of seniors will walk out of the tunnel and into Martin Stadium for the final time.
So, as we do every year, we'll say goodbye. We'll do it on Friday afternoon in Martin Stadium, but we'll also do it here. It's only right.
Let's do this as we wait for the Apple Cup (note: I'm picking out players I know decently well for this one).
Wade Jacobson: There isn't a player the Washington State defense hates more than Wade Jacobson, that I'm pretty sure of. He's nasty -- one of those guys you'd hate to face, but want on your side of a fight. Wade knew just about every trick in the book, and used them no matter the time of the place.
Just about everyday in practice, Wade would start a fight. It wasn't even a surprise really. He'd use one of those tricks on a defender, the defender would get fed up, and the shoving would ensue. It became comical.
Though he dealt with back injuries, Wade was a mainstay on the offensive line -- other than last season, when he was forced into surgery. He may have struggled at times, but boy was it fun to watch him get underneath people's skin.
Andrei Lintz: During the spring, we all thought this would be Lintz's year. After being used as a blocking tight end, rarely catching passes, Lintz was a big part of the offense throughout the spring camp and into the fall. And then ... he up and disappeared.
Whether Lintz was passed on the depth chart or his work in practice just didn't pay off is still somewhat of a mystery. We do know he was dealing with some kind of foot injury, as well. But what began as a promising outlook for the season turned into the same ol', same ol'.
Still, Lintz has been fun to watch and talk to. He received newfound attention this year, and seemed to bask in it. Leach called him a bear, and Lintz retorted that he wasn't a fan of raw meat. It seemed like every day he was cracking jokes.
Who knows what might have been if Lintz had always been a pass-catching tight end. Maybe he would've blossomed with more time. Or maybe we'd still be right here at the end of it all.
Daniel Simmons: Remember that empty corpse comment? Sure you do. About the seniors and their lack of heart, and all that fun stuff. That wasn't Simmons, who has continued to battle and grind, working his way up the depth chart.
Simmons has been somewhat of a bright spot in a secondary that's struggled. He wasn't a starter as the year began, but worked his way into the position. He made mistakes, sure, but he's fought the whole way through. And that's something to be admired.
Gino Simone: When Simone arrived in Pullman, we all had high hopes. His recruitment was exciting, as it always seems to be with higher-ranked players. Coming out of the powerhouse that is Skyline, Simone was supposed to be the centerpiece of his class, a highly-rated guy who could contribute right away.
And he did see the field immediately. The only problem? Nagging injuries derailed his career and kept him bouncing between the field and sideline during his time at Washington State.
He worked hard, but still never found a concrete role. Even this season, with Mike Leach at the helm and the expectation that the ball would be spread around, Simone struggled to stay on the field. And instead, we wonder what might have been.
Tyree Toomer: Unfortunately, Toomer will probably be remembered for this. Truth be told, Toomer was supposed to be a nickelback and depth in the secondary. But a combination of injuries and attrition thrust him into a starting role. He always seemed to put forth the effort, but the results weren't there.
I still remember Toomer -- maybe two years ago -- stepping up into a hole during a goal line stand and missing the tackle. It wasn't the missed tackle that stood out, though. After it happened, he slapped the ground and his helmet. In a time that many players seemed to have been going through the motions, he cared. The next time by, he stepped into the hole on a similar play and made the tackle. It was a nice bit of redemption.
Was Toomer a great player? No. He was frustrating as heck. But he still stuck with it, even as things got tougher and tougher.
Carl Winston: Just looking at Carl Winston, it's clear he's the elder statesman of the bunch. Earlier this week, he spoke fondly of Pullman and the coaching staff on a conference call, saying he's thankful for the staff and wishes he could spend more time with them. He showered praise upon the fans, the family atmosphere in Pullman and looked back lovingly on his time in Pullman.
That's kind of how he is. Typically quiet, when Winston speaks it's probably a good idea to listen. He'll probably say something worth paying attention to.
On the field, his production never really jumped off the page. There's been moments of greatness, sure, but they're interspersed with moments of silence. Still, in a backfield that hasn't been all that great, he's stood out as a leader, and a guy that runs hard and with effort.
There are three more players I want to point out, though none of them are with the team. Each was robbed of Senior Day by injuries, their careers cut short at Washington State.
Skylar Stormo: Probably the best name for a football player ever, which made him stand out. It doesn't get much better than Skylar Stormo. He's bounced around, on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and still had one more season in him. Stormo never did get to play, though.
As spring camp began, Stormo's name disappeared from the roster. We later found out he suffered a painful back injury while weightlifting. It ended his football career.
I have no idea if Stormo would've contributed, but it's a damn shame.
LeAndre Daniels: LeAndre Daniels was going to be an NFL safety. Before his sophomore season began, I was sure Daniels had a future at the next level, and still am. He looked the part: A tall, physical specimen who hit hard and roamed the center of the field as a safety. Given a little seasoning and development, he was on the fast-track to the league.
It looked like Daniels was headed for a starting spot, or something close to it, following spring ball. I was impressed with the few times I watched him play. We heard good things. And then, suddenly, it was over.
This one still bothers me -- just as it did at the time. Here was a young man with a lot of potential who suddenly had the game taken away. He broke his neck, and playing the game would be dangerous. It happened in practice and wasn't one of those "know it immediately" injuries.
And the whole thing was a tough pill to swallow.
Cory Mackay: After a redshirt year, it sure looked like Cory Mackay was ready to contribute. He was going to be in the rotation at defensive end, if not a starter. He impressed, and it seemed like he was the next big thing.
We all know what happened next. On the drive home from Pullman following finals, Mackay apparently fell asleep on 26. When he did, his car drifted off the road, rolling multiple times and landing in a field. Mackay was alive, but he was in bad shape.
Mackay was paralyzed by the accident, ending his promising football career. The young man who had flipped from Washington to Washington State during his recruitment never saw the field during an Apple Cup. He never saw the field at all, in fact.
The whole ordeal was heartbreaking to watch play out, and something that still seems kind of surreal. Mackay was robbed of his ability to walk and play football, and faced a long road to recovery. He did, however, keep fighting in a process that'll probably last a lifetime.
Keep Mackay in your mind as the Apple Cup begins. This was his senior night.
I'm missing two players. They'll get their own post shortly.