We’re about halfway through the “Lewiston Project” portion of Fall camp and we’re still discovering that with Mike Leach nothing is quite set in such a way that we can predict it. But here we are again, trying to do it with the newcomers at receiver.
The position of receiver for Leach is broken up into two separate categories, inside receiver (commonly referred to as the slot) and outside receiver (flanker or split end). As we already know, there’s just a bevy of guys manning each position from last season already, which might make you think that the new guys would simply be redshirted. I know it’s been a common theme among publications to say that the new guys won’t be making an impact for Washington State this season for that very reason.
Well think again!
After just five days of camp, it’s become apparent that Leach loves the trio of Vince Mayle, River Cracraft and Robert Lewis and they all bring some new and different talents to the mix.
Mayle has struggled a bit early but likely will come around before the team heads back to Pullman in five more days. Regardless, at 6’3″, 240 he’s got the type of body/speed combo that you don’t often see outside of the SEC. I mean he’s basically Marquess Wilson plus 60 lbs!
Lewis is the opposite end of the spectrum, only weighing in at 155, but he’s got the speed that the Cougs lack. He struggled mightily in the Spring with drops and adjusting to the physicality of the game, but remember he’s a grayshirt player so he’d been out of football for several months. He seems to be coming around nicely in the early going of the Fall. If he can show consistency catching the ball, there’s no reason Leach and Co. won’t try and get the ball to him in space, much in the same vain that Oregon tries to get DeAnthony Thomas the ball in space. I’ll hold to my early prediction that Lewis is a value player in that manner by midseason, likely between the 20’s, as he’s too small for redzone targets.
Cracraft was thought to be the odd man out with a sure redshirt season on the way, but has seriously impressed both Leach and his quarterback in the early going. Connor Halliday said on day 1 of camp that the kid was so impressive he thought River could challenge for a starting spot by the Auburn game! Leach also pointed out that River is a great, physical athlete who knows when and how to use his hands and body for position. That probably means he is one of the most physical inside receivers that the Cougs possess (Bobby Ratliff is the other). At 6’0″, 198 that sure is a great trait to have in the redzone!
And let’s not forget about Cole Madison? Early in camp the 6’7″, 265 pounder has been lining up at inside receiver as well! We know he can run, as he played inside receiver and tight end in high school and is absolutely huge compared to any other receiver the Cougs have. Can you imagine throwing him on one side with Dominique or Kristoff Williams, Mayle and Cracraft on the other side and Marks somewhere as the fifth receiver in any set? OMG! There’s not a bigger, scarier set of receivers in the country than that.
Overall I think the different traits that each of these players possess are going to get them on the field in more than just complementary roles. Madison’s role is a project but he’s such a mismatch waiting to happen! Don’t be surprised to see him as a 6th down lineman at times on the goal line or in the slot other times.
The offense just got a lot more fun!