PULLMAN — Redshirting freshmen — having them sit their first year in exchange for a fifth-year of eligibility — is often considered a sign of a healthy program. After all, it is in effect trading a player’s worst season for their best one.
However, if no true freshmen play than a school probably isn’t recruiting enough high-impact guys. There is no benefit to having a player sit out if he is going to leave for the NFL before his fifth season.
Still, a program should redshirt more players than not, giving young guys a year in the weight room and to adjust to college life.
In head coach Mike Leach’s first season at Washington State the Cougars played nine true freshmen, and won three games. Last season they played just five first-year players and won six.
We won’t know for sure how many freshmen will play this season until its conclusion, but here are six candidates to play early.
Calvin Green, wide receiver, 5-10, 170
It’s amazing how quickly Green picked up the nuances of playing wide receiver considering he played running back in a Wing-T offense in high school. Still, Green established himself as one of the better route runners on the team when he enrolled early for spring practice. He’s also one of WSU’s fastest players, and as he gets more comfortable in what he’s doing that speed becomes more apparent.
Green is certain to play this season — he’s already listed as the No. 2 H receiver behind Rickey Galvin — and will see the field plenty this fall.
Jordan Dascalo, punter, 6-1, 180
Whether or not Dascalo emerges as the starting punter, it seems a virtual certainty that he will play sometime this season. While he’s still picking up some of punting’s fine points, he has an undeniably big leg. He punts further and with more hang time than Wes Concepcion, but lacks the junior’s consistency.
Marcellus Pippins, cornerback, 5-10, 163
The Cougars need all hands on deck in the secondary, and Pippins arrived in the spring, giving himself a leg up in the race to contribute. The coaches threw a lot at Pippins early and he seemed to respond well, matching the occasional busted coverage with an eye-popping interception. His athleticism is undeniable and he figures to factor heavily in special teams as a return man.
Pat Porter, cornerback, 5-9, 163
There is room for more than one cornerback to play early (in fact there is room for three, but we’ll get to that) and Porter didn’t make the trip all the way from Tuscaloosa, Ala., to sit and watch. Porter saw lots of reps with the twos and even a few with the ones throughout fall camp. He looked lost early on but has steadily improved and may have even overtaken Pippins on the depth chart.
Sulaiman Hameed, safety, 5-10, 180
The depth at safety is better than cornerback, but it’s also been tested by injury, with both Isaac Dotson and Darius Lemora spending some time in a yellow no-contact jersey. Hameed came into camp as a cornerback but was quickly moved into the void at safety thanks to his physical play. He played well and while both Dotson and Lemora are back, it seems likely that Hameed will find his way onto the field this fall.
Jeff Farrar, cornerback, 5-11, 196
If Farrar had made it to fall camp it seems highly likely that he would be playing this fall. However, Farrar originally signed with Virginia out of high school before making his way to Pullman. He’s only had two practices in pads but has played well in coverage and hasn’t shied away from physical situations. While Farrar is probably destined for a redshirt year, if he’s caught up after a few games the coaches may decide he gives them the best chance to win moving forward.