While much of America was glued to its television on Saturday, breathlessly waiting for the world’s greatest Air Force to demonstrate its might by shooting down a Chinese balloon from the stratosphere, some NFL prospects were in Mobile, Alabama, doing their best to shoot up draft boards. Among them was Washington State Cougars linebacker Daiyan Henley, who was capping a senior season in which he earned First Team All-Pac-12 Conference honors, and was a finalist for the Butkus Award.
While Saturday’s game is the featured event, the week leading up to the game is where players have their best chance to show their wares. Oftentimes, scouts value the practice drills, live scrimmaging and interviews with the prospects more so than the game itself, which, as I learned on Saturday, has some rather odd artificialities such as two-minutes warnings during every quarter. Like, huh?
Back to Daiyan. Before we go any further, we must highlight that visor, which was about the coolest thing anyone saw on Saturday, and the NCAA should allow players to wear them because they’re awesome.
There were more than 100 players taking part in Senior Bowl festivities, and Henley’s name sprang up consistently as a standout during the week. Let’s take a look at some of the praise he earned.
First, from NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah:
The big test for Henley was how he would hold up in coverage against all-star competition. Well, he passed that test with flying colors. He’s instinctive and he can run. Henley has a chance to be a Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) pick.
Next up was NFL.com’s scout Eric Edholm:
I think one guy who really reflected positively was Daiyan Henley, linebacker from Washington State. I noticed the first day [of practice] on the sideline being real active and involved, being vocal, and I was like, “all right, that’s a good sign.” And then you see him in there, and every day seemed to get a little more comfortable, especially Wednesday I thought he had a really nice practice. His size [6-foot, 230 pounds] is going to be a little bit of an issue, but the coverage and speed seems like he can move around really well with anticipation.
Finally, we hear from ESPN NFL Draft reporter Jordan Reid:
Washington State linebacker Daiyan Henley has performed well this week. At 6-foot, 230 pounds, he’s a rangy second-level defender with easy movement skills that have stood out among the rest of the linebackers in team drills. He makes things tough for running backs in coverage — he has been hip-to-hip with them in one-on-one drills. He also has shown physicality when matching up against backs in pass-rush drills. Henley, who had 106 tackles during his lone season at Wazzu, has shown instincts and a nose for the ball in Mobile.
When game day arrived, Henley didn’t take a step back with his weeklong performance. This is where I’d love to tell you about the number of tackles he made, but here’s a look at the Senior Bowl’s own website:
Good job, good effort.
Unfortunately, if there are defensive stats from the game, my interwebbing skills weren’t sufficient enough to locate them. Anecdotally, Henley didn’t slow down at all. I went to the game, and heard his name called several times over the PA system. Henley also took advantage of a pretty funny “Derp” situation from the opponent, shedding a block and pouncing on a loose ball.
Hopefully Henley kept that ball!
As one report mentioned, the only real knock on Henley is his size, which may hurt him a bit on some draft boards. Outside of that, there’s no doubt that Daiyan can succeed at the next level. He will also be a really solid player on special teams, which can often make a huge difference to GMs looking to fill out a roster.
While we focused on a departed Cougar, the Spokesman Review’s Colton Clark took an in-depth look at the 2023 edition of Cougar Football this week. Top of mind for most of us, I’d assume, was a good chunk of Clark’s story - the offensive line. Given who WSU returns, added to who the staff newly added to the fold, I’m not exactly confident that things will be a whole lot better.
WSU augmented its O-line with two signees: Southern Utah transfer guard Christy Nkanu and Chabot College (California) tackle Eliesa Pole.
I mean, I guess it couldn’t get much worse, but these two guys really need to show out early on if WSU is to have any offensive success in 2023.
Dickert also mentioned the possibility of bringing in another transfer or two during the second portal window, which opens up in the spring.
“Once (coaches) see our guys and what we need, there might be another one through the junior college or late portal market (which opens in mid-April) to add after spring ball,” Dickert said. “We’re kind of strategically waiting in that area, but we’ll never pass on a good young player that we can develop. We feel very confident that’s going to be the core of our program. I’m excited we have all these players here to work with right now.”
Spring ball starts next month! Time sure flies.
After nearly pulling off an upset at USC on Thursday, WSU’s men were never really in the game at Pauley Pavilion, trailing by nine points at halftime enroute to their biggest loss of the season, 76-52. A quick glance at the box score shows that WSU didn’t get one point - not one single solitary point! - from its bench. Sheesh.
On the women’s side, the Cougars face Cal on Sunday at noon, in what should be a much less difficult test than the one they faced against Stanford on Friday. The Bears are 11-11 overall, and just 2-9 in the Pac-12. A win Sunday would get WSU back to even in the conference at 6-6, and keep them near the middle of the standings.
This Week in Parenting
It was a week! First up was the teenager, whose high school led the news! Why? Well apparently there was a junior at the school who made some sort of list of girls, which may or may not have been either a “prettiest girls in school” list or a hit list. That episode became a Tik Tok video or something, which prompted school intervention and media coverage. As you’d imagine, the Facebook response among parents was measured, calm, and not at all speculative. Since I haven’t Facebooked for more than a decade, I can’t say for sure, but Mrs. Kendall relays that it was the typical Facebook tire fire. As for the school, here’s part of the message we parents got via email, from the proncipal:
...administration was made aware of a Snapchat message of a violent nature that had been shared among students at the campus. At no point was there mention of a threat against the school or school shooting in that Snapchat message.
With the assistance of our school’s resource officer and district officials, an investigation was quickly and thoroughly conducted. It was later determined that the allegation mentioned in the Snapchat message was unfounded and there was no current threat to the school or students.
...district officials have been made aware of a TikTok video that is circulating and being shared via Instagram in reference to yesterday’s situation and the manner in which it was handled by officials. Police Department have been notified of this TikTok/Instagram video, and district officials are working alongside them to determine the parties involved in continuing to spread false information concerning the safety of students.
I work with a guy who was a lot closer to this situation than I am, as his daughter was closely involved, and he relayed that the school’s response overall, and the resource officer’s nonchalant reaction in particular, is somewhere between curious and infuriating. Seems there’s a difference of opinion on the school’s response! But it’s not like we have two decades worth of examples where investigators find all sorts of warning signs AFTER someone takes military-grade, purpose-built killing machine to school and slaughters a bunch of innocent people. Fun times.
On a brighter note, the 11 year-old and I decided to make the quick drive over to Mobile and take in the Senior Bowl festivities. The teenager didn’t go because he opted to spend the weekend sleeping in a tent (voluntarily!!!) with his fellow Boy Scouts. It was a gorgeous day to watch a game. The kiddo wore his Cougar jersey, and we hoped to catch Henley’s attention at some point to get an autograph.
I had him scope out which tunnel Henley’s side used, so we could linger there as the game ended. With about five minutes to go, he positioned himself near the tunnel, and I sat behind him to make sure none of the adult signature-seekers (kinda weird if you ask me!) nudged him out. He was able to get some signatures on his mini-helmet as some sort of Hunger Games situation developed around us. As players walked past toward the locker room, kids between 8-17 or so treated the situation as if the Beatles were in town, screaming requests for gloves, cleats, footballs, wrist bands etc. I’m guessing they’d have gladly accepted used jock straps. It was wild.
We finally saw Henley headed our way, and both of us yelled out to him, trying to get his attention above the din the jackals were making. No luck. So off we went, happy that the kiddo got 10 or so signatures, but kind of bummed that our only Coug wasn’t one of them. I decided to take a roundabout route of the stadium, because I saw the player buses parked behind some barriers. We stood near the fence, and a few players were nice enough to come over and sign autographs before boarding their bus. I asked one of them (Illinois running back Chase Brown, super nice kid) if Henley was still in the locker room. He was! We still have a shot!
About 15 minutes later, after the police had inexplicably and unnecessarily parked two SUVs between us and the buses, we noticed Henley! I told the boy his nickname was Ranger, so he started shouting “Henley! Ranger!” a few times. Daiyan heard it, and came our way.
Turned out to be quite a nice day. The kid had also noticed that there was a Buc-ee’s between us and home, so we made a stop and grabbed some stuff. I’d never been to a Buc-ee’s before. Oh man, is that an experience.
Unsolicited Podcast Recommendation
If you are into podcasts that are incredibly informative and great at making complex issues digestible, give Derek Thompson’s Plain English a listen. This episode in particular was sensational, and I bet you will find yourself nodding along several time. I certainly was.
The Dark Side of Being Obsessed With Productivity - The Ringer
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Nearly every part about this Spokesman Review article had me either laughing or shaking my head. Goose crap is everywhere! We must get rid of the geese!
Ok, we got...
One goose! We declare success!
Sandpoint's inaugural City Beach goose hunt nets one bird; council sets dates for to repeat event in Novermber | The Spokesman-Review
In an effort to control the goose population, the Sandpoint City Council on Wednesday approved another controlled hunt at Sandpoint City Beach Park for November after only one goose was killed during an initial hunt this winter.
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If you start with the conclusion you can talk yourself into anything.