Jayden De Laura has taken his medicine, served his sentence and now will be afforded the opportunity in training camp to maintain his position as starting quarterback for the Washington State Cougars. Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich recently confirmed that de Laura had been reinstated to the team.
Much like the ongoing battle to legalize Maryland sports betting, de Laura’s future status with the Cougars was completely uncertain and entirely up in the air following his offseason DUI arrest. He was suspended from the team following his arrest.
At 2:13 a.m. on February 6th, according to Pullman Police, de Laura was pulled over after driving through a stop sign on Colorado Street and subsequently driving the wrong way on Thatuna Street. At the time, de Laura failed a field sobriety test. However, Pullman Police weren’t able to register his blood-alcohol level because de Laura refused to take a breathalyzer test.
Back In the Good Graces
Rolovich revealed de Laura’s reinstatement during a radio interview with KJR’s Ian Furness.
"He’s back with us," Rolovich told Furness. "[He] took his medicine and he’s moving forward in a better way in my opinion."
While admitting his unhappiness with de Laura’s decision to get behind the wheel of his car while intoxicated, Rolovich also leaned toward the forgive and forget route going forward.
"We don’t hold grudges," Rolovich said. "You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes sometimes and I think he learned his lesson and moving forward we’re full steam ahead."
Rolovich also appreciated how de Laura owned his mistake and handled the penalty that was doled out to him.
"I would say incredibly," Rolovich told Krem.com of de Laura’s approach following his suspension. "It's not something he is proud of, of the incident. It's not something the program stands for, but what I told him is how he deals with this could define the rest of his career and I’m incredibly proud of his approach and taking the punishment, growing and maturing as a young man, and that’s part of the job at this level.
"So far, I’m pleased with his growth as a young man in a lot of areas."
A True Freshman Starter
De Laura started last season as a true freshman. Winning the job over redshirt freshman Gunner Cruz and redshirt sophomore Cammon Cooper, de Laura was the first true freshman to start at quarterback in a season opener in WSU history. He was an instant hit. He passed for two touchdowns and ran for another in a season-opening 38-28 win over the Oregon State Beavers. De Laura displayed a rifle arm, good pocket awareness, and quickness and elusiveness afoot. He won Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for his debut performance.
As the season continued, however, there was more emphasis on the true in de Laura’s designation as a true freshman. He made rookie mistakes. He tested positive for COVID-19. Over his final three starts of the season - losses to Oregon, USC and Utah - de Laura threw as many interceptions (three) as he did TDs (three).
He finished the season 78-of-129 (60.5%) for 886 yards and five touchdowns. De Laura also rushed 28 times for 34 yards and two touchdowns with a long of 16 yards for the 1-3 Cougars.
The Battle Is On
De Laura will be back on the field when the team gathers for camp in late July. And he figures to be in a dogfight for the starting position, especially after missing out on spring football due to his suspension.
The battle for starting quarterback looks to be the most compelling storyline of the Cougars’ preseason. Cruz has transferred to Arizona, but de Laura will again face competition from Cooper as well as Tennessee graduate transfer Jarrett Guarantano in order to retain his starting job.
During Washington State’s spring game, Guarantano lasted just one play. He hurt his right hand when he hit in on a lineman’s helmet while delivering a pass. To add insult to the injury, Guarantano’s pass was picked off. That left Cooper to take the majority of the first-team snaps, but Rolovich doesn’t project anyone having separated themselves in the QB contest.
"I see Jarret, Jayden and Cam kind of battling that out," Rolovich told the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Rolovich also praised the work of sophomore walk-on Victor Gabalis, noting that he’s closing the gap between him and the other three QBs.