It looks like WSU football hosted a couple of familiar faces this week when former defensive tackles Xavier Cooper and Destiny Vaeao came back to Pullman and trained with the current crop of Cougar linemen.
Cooper, of course, was a third round pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2015 NFL Draft, while Vaeao signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft.
This is pretty cool, seeing pictures of Cooper back in crimson and gray, passing on knowledge gained from a year in the NFL to the current players. And, honestly, the fact that Cooper and Vaeao would make any time at all for their former teammates with training camp looming just weeks away speaks volumes. It probably has a lot to do with the culture of brotherhood assistant head coach Joe Salave’a has helped to create both on that unit and on the team.
I have no idea if there's actual evidence to support the idea that former players coming back to a program boosts the current program (creating some kind of cyclical "momentum" as it were), but it certainly can't hurt. And with the defensive line needing to replace stalwarts Vaeao and Darryl Paulo this season, any help is appreciated.
Cooper played in 14 games in his rookie season with the Browns, collecting 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Vaeao, meanwhile, is trying to impress the Eagles and claim a roster spot.