PULLMAN – No. 7 Washington State hosted No. 16 Washington for the annual Apple Cup Friday night in Pullman. If the final 15-28 decision in favor of Washington didn’t leave the a packed Martin Stadium in heartache, a farewell to the winningest senior class in program history surly did the trick.
Playing two seasons at Holmes CC in Mississippi, Sean Harper Jr. transferred to Wazzu in 2017. He quickly established himself as a premier Pac-12 corner having played to a high level in all 13 games. His long 6-foot-2 frame kept star receivers at bay and was in for a big showing come his 2018 campaign.
The Georgia native last appeared early October in Corvallis against the Beavers. After only appearing in six games this year, the Georgia native leaves WSU in a sling suffering an undisclosed injury.
Darrien Molton started his WSU career in 2015 seeing immediate action. A staple in the Cougar secondary for years, the corner has played 46 games in crimson and grey threads accounting for 195 tackles (154 solo), 6 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 picks, 19 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery.
A soft-spoken Molton does his talking on the field. A combination between performance and longevity will make him easy to miss.
Offensive captain Kyle Sweet is a jack of all trades. Holding down slot receiver and making the occasional appearance as a rugby-style punter, the California native has blossomed since his days as River Cracraft’s understudy.
Tallying up 5 touchdowns on 139 receptions for 1,451 yards, Sweet has remained a reliable down-and-distance target averaging 10.6 yards per catch over 44 games with the Cougs.
If you read Keith Harrington’s career in reverse, it would be one of hard work paying off. But yet, that’s not how things panned out for the halfback.
Harrington spent his 2014 season as a redshirt developing his skills to compete at a high level in the Pac-12. By 2015, the Florida native earned 3 starts playing in all 13 games. He even found the end zone on 3 occasions averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
Come 2016, Harrington saw the field only twice. In an effort to get him more reps, the coaching staff issued a position change to slot receiver that just never seemed to fit. By 2017, Harrington was reduced to special teams kickoff coverage. Doing the most with what opportunity he had, the then-junior recorded a special teams high 11 tackles.
His senior year in 2018, the quiet halfback grinds daily at practice displaying exhausting levels of effort. Earning the occasional handoff behind stars James Williams and Max Borghi, Harrington has tacken 23 touches – 9 by air – for 102 yards.
Guys like Hunter Dale don’t grow on trees and the Washington State fan base will learn that hard way come 2019. Perhaps no player on Washington State’s roster is more underrated than the New Orleans native Nickleback.
Earning six Pac-12 scholarship offers on a long list of options, Dale initially set his sights toward Nebraska and then Florida. The Huskers and Gators had both fired their respective coaches which led the defensive star to look elsewhere. Having an established relationship with Alex Grinch in 2015, the former Cougar defensive coordinator came as a package deal with Dale by his side.
Dale’s unfinished Cougar career has picked up 109 tackles (58 solo), 3.5 sacks, 1 interception, 5 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble to pair with unparalleled leadership.
Defensive end Logan Tago has made a living in the opposing teams backfield his senior season. Pulling in 4 sacks, the 250-pound Somoan owns 10 tackles for loss on just this year alone. A player who appears to get better with time, expect a show from Tago come Bowl Season.
A product of west-side high school Bishop Blanchet, Kyle Celli walked on to the WSU football team as a sophomore in 2015. Not appearing until his redshirt junior year in 2017, Celli has started 23 straight games at long snapper along with 7 career special teams tackles.
If it were possible, Washington State would only recruit Peyton Pelluer-caliber men. Like Hunter Dale, fans will not know the value of Pelluer until the sixth-year standout linebacker is gone.
A story CSN was proud to break, Pelluer was offered to play ball with the defending National Champions in Tuscaloosa, Alabama this offseason. Turning down the offer for unfinished business, Friday’s shortcoming was surly a heartbreaker for the defensive captain and 4th generation Coug.
Pelluer will forever stand in Cougar history as one of the best to ever play the game. He enters Bowl Season with 240 career tackles (195 solo), 33.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 8 pass defections, 4 forced fumbles, and 4 fumbles recovered.
It’s hard to see you go, 47. That number, and the Cougar defense, just won’t look the same without you.
Robert Lewis (15)
Receiver Robert Lewis is the lone Coug matching Pelluer in tenure. The California native, for whatever reason, was absent from Friday’s ceremony but his contributions to WSU will not go overlooked.
Lewis saw immediate action his redshirt freshman year (2014) playing in 11 games. The trend continued up until 2017 where the then-senior missed an entire season due to injury and was granted a medical shirt. Never fully regaining his previously established traction, so far Lewis’ final year in Pullman has granted him only a single reception for 6 yards.
Lewis’ career numbers at WSU currently check in at 118 reception for 1260 yards and seven scores.
Defensive lineman Kingston Fernandez made his Cougar debut in 2016 as a redshirt sophomore. Appearing 4 games between 2016 and 2017, he has pinned 4 tackles to his name (1 solo).
Of all the stories in college football, few measure up to that of WSU nose tackle Taylor Comfort. Spending years on scout team, Comfort near hung up his cleats before the 2018 season.
Bribed for a return by the coaching staff through the means of a scholarship, the local product has played an integral part of Washington State’s defensive efforts on the year. He closes out the regular season with 6 solo tackles toward his running total of 21.
You don’t hear Andre Dillard’s name often. As a left tackle, that’s just the way he likes it. A local product out of Woodinville High School, Dillard had started 38 games in row dating back to 2016. He earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention in 2017 and was named All-Pac-12 Second Team by Pro Football Focus in 2016.
Offensive lineman Robert Valencia and Dilliard have something in common – they do the little things right. Valencia transferred from City College of San Francisco in 2017 alongside receiver Easop Winston Jr. and quarterback Anthony Gordon after having won a championship.
Not appearing until 2018, Valencia has filled in on the right side of the line behind guard Josh Watson and tackle Abraham Lucas all season long for WSU. He has played an integral role in keeping signal caller Gardner Minshew II clean.
An unstated departure big as any is defensive lineman Nick Begg. The 6-foot-5 Santa Margarita product has been a Coug since 2014. He made his college debut in 2016 in the closing minutes of a 69-7 Arizona Wildcat whipping.
A contagious personality rivaled only by Minshew II, Begg plays a valued role behind the scenes as an anchor of sorts in the locker room. He leaves his final game at Martin with 16 tackles (12 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.
A player who needs no introduction. Gardner Minshew II has revived the fan base in ways unimaginable. It was evident since day-one of Fall Camp that he would impact the program; the only question was the matter of degree.
“It’s without question that Minshew has seamlessly assimilated into the tight-knit Cougar family. No matter the role he serves during his solo season with the Cougs, I see a guy who will leave the program better than he found it. Welcome aboard, 16.”Andrew Baertlein
Minshew II has undeniably led a top-5 season in Cougar football history having already thrown for 4,477 yards and 36 touchdowns on an unheard of 70.6 percent completion rate.
When it’s all said and done, the graduate transfer from Brandon, Mississippi will live in Cougar lore as an all-time great beside the likes of Drew Bledsoe, Jack Thompson, Mark Rypien, Ryan Leaf, and predecessor Luke Falk.
Words cannot describe what this senior class has done for Washington State University. They have flipped the script 180 degrees ascending WSU to a top west coast program.
It is time to finish what you boys started. Go out with a bang and win a big bowl game; you deserve it.