A living document: all reps on WSU’s defense are earned

LEWISTON – Washington State Defensive Coordinator Tracy Claeys joined the program back in 2018. The previous signing date recruited four personnel to his inherited secondary – not a single one is still with the program.

The unit lacked depth leaving Claeys hands tied. Behind the eight ball, he was forced down the junior college trail in effort to quickly bolster his half of the ball.

Enter Shahman Moore, Bryce Beekman, Daniel Isom, and Derrick Langford.

All four have made a push early in Fall Camp pleading their case for a starting spot by virtue of their performance alone. Langford notably took first-team reps Tuesday in place of returning cornerback George Hicks III who would then play with the two’s.

“The fancy name for it is a living document,” Claeys said. “You’re gonna earn your job each week and if you had a bad week in practice getting ready and the guy behind you has done a a good job, he’s gonna start.”

With Sean Harper Jr.’s 2018 injury, the six-foot-two corner missed action against the Stanford Cardinal where J.J. Arcega-Whiteside – a mismatch at six-foot-three – bullied his way toward 10 receptions, 111 yards, and 2 touchdowns.

Fan’s complained about an unresized secondary, and Claeys delivered on the recruiting trail in response.

All four JuCo defensive backs stand tall between six-foot and six-foot-three, but Clayes wants to stay as close to six-foot as he can.

“Marcus Strong is awfully good and he’s not a six-foot tall player,” Claeys said. “I will take somebody who can get out of a break and run rather than just somebody because of their size.”

Standing tall and long is great to defend the Arcega-Whitside’s and Dez Patmon’s of the world, but speed, agility and changing direction on a dime are top priorities. Because of this, Claeys is confident in his word on the newcomers.

“They’re not ready yet, but they don’t have to be today. We still got 20 practices to go, ” Claeys said.

As for the first few practices, the defense is starting to find its shape with each JuCo product discovering a home. Expect to find Langford and Moore battle it out at corner while Isom and Beekman do the same at safety.

Claeys moved Moore to corner Monday and sounds pleased with the two days worth of reps. Cornerback, according to the coordinator, is Moore’s natural position.

“We don’t have to decide anything final of where people are gonna start out until the tenth practice,” Claeys said. “By then we will have it figured out.”

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