PULLMAN – Like so many college football teams, the Washington State Cougars have played an increasing number of true freshmen in recent years.
True freshman offensive linemen? Not so much. But the No. 2 right tackle on the updated depth chart unveiled Monday at WSU lists John Fullington, fresh out of Class 2A North Mason High School.
“It’s just awesome coming here as a freshman, maybe getting an opportunity to play,” Fullington said after the Cougars went through a light workout Monday night in preparation for Saturday’s season opener at Oklahoma State (4 p.m., FSN).
Fullington and up to eight other true freshmen will travel and possibly play for the Cougars on Saturday. Coach Paul Wulff said “there’s a good chance” Fullington will see action Saturday and throughout the season.
“I always felt John had all the right makeup between the ears and the physical talent to potentially be a special player someday,” Wulff said.
Wulff had never ruled out the possibility of playing Fullington this year, even when Fullington first signed his letter of intent in February.
“He’s clearly the best high school offensive line prospect I’ve seen in years,” Wulff said at the time.
Fullington, who has practiced with the No. 1 offense at times in fall camp, said he came into camp believing he had a chance to play this season.
“It’s just a little jump from 2A,” Fullington joked.
Fullington is listed at 6-foot-5 and 268 pounds, but Fullington said he’s put on 15 pounds of muscle since June, when he was last officially weighed.
In addition to Fullington, five other true freshmen are listed as the No. 2 player at their position – receiver Marquess Wilson, cornerback Dante Horton, strong safety Deone Bucannon, placekicker Andrew Furney and punt returner Rickey Galvin.
Galvin is also expected to see action at running back and possibly as a kick returner.
Eight redshirt freshmen made the two-deep, including cornerbacks Nolan Washington and Anthony Carpenter. Washington, a Kennedy High School product, has been nursing a hip injury and may be replaced in the starting lineup by Carpenter on Saturday.
COUGARS’ OPPONENT THIS WEEK
OKLAHOMA ST. (9-4 OVERALL, 6-2 BIG 12 IN 2009)
KICKOFF: 4 p.m. Saturday, Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Okla.
RADIO: 850-AM, 1240-AM, 1090-AM.
Coach: Mike Gundy (36-27, sixth year).
Last week: Season opener for both teams.
Against the Cougars: WSU leads the series, 2-1. The Cougars won 27-13 in 1951 in Spokane and 9-7 in 1952 in Stillwater, then lost 39-13 in Seattle in 2008.
Washington connections: Dana Holgorsen, Oklahoma State’s new offensive coordinator, ran the nation’s leading offense last year at Houston under head coach Kevin Sumlin, a former WSU graduate assistant coach. Sumlin was considered for the head coaching job at WSU when Paul Wulff replaced Bill Doba after the 2007 season. Russell Okung, the Seattle Seahawks’ first-round draft pick in April, was a first-team All-American offensive tackle at Oklahoma State last year.
Scouting report: The Cowboys lost the bulk of the talent and experience off last year’s Cotton Bowl team, but senior running back Kendall Hunter has returned to health after an injury-plagued 2009 season. He earned some All-America attention two years ago when he ran for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns, including 107 yards and two TDs against WSU. The offensive line and defense are inexperienced, and junior quarterback Brandon Weeden is a 26-year-old former minor league baseball pitcher who has thrown just 27 passes in college.
Did you know: Holgorsen’s no-huddle spread offense at Houston led the nation in total yards per game (563), passing yards per game (433.7) and points per game (42.2) last season.
(top returnees from 2009)
Howie Stalwick, contributing writer