WSU Football | Ivory showing his true worth
A player turning heads in fall camp at Washington State has been sophomore running back Chris Ivory. "It's starting out pretty good for...
Seattle Times staff reporter
PULLMAN — A player turning heads in fall camp at Washington State has been sophomore running back Chris Ivory.
"It's starting out pretty good for me," Ivory said Wednesday after the Cougars' fourth workout this year.
Ivory is a strong candidate to be the team's breakthrough player this season.
Last year as a true freshman, Ivory had WSU's longest run from scrimmage in an 80-yarder against Idaho.
He suffered an ankle injury late in that game, missed the Baylor game the next week, and then was used exclusively on special teams the rest of the season.
Ahead of him were steady sophomore starter Dwight Tardy, as well as DeMaundray Woolridge and Derrell Hutsona.
Woolridge and Hutsona were offseason academic casualties, but would have been challenged by Ivory anyway.
Ivory, 6 feet, 228 pounds, raised eyebrows in spring football before leaving school and returning to Longview, Texas, because his mother was ill.
WSU coaches breathed a sigh of relief when he returned to Pullman for summer school and the "voluntary" workouts.
Coach Bill Doba calls Ivory "a slasher who can help us quite a bit."
Ivory, who ran a 10.8-second 100 meters in high school, was a prep fullback who spent most of his time blocking for Vondrell McGee, a Parade All-American who redshirted last season at Texas.
"Chris is one of the faster guys on our team," quarterback Alex Brink said. "He's a quiet kid who takes football very seriously, and when he's out on the field he's focused all the time."
• The Cougars had only four running backs in uniform Wednesday because Tardy (hamstring) and Marcus Richmond (groin strain) were sidelined. Neither injury is considered serious. However, newcomer safety Terry Mixon (hamstring) and receiver Anthony Houston (right wrist surgery, hamstring) are listed as out indefinitely.
• The Cougars will have a new long snapper this year for extra points and field goals because junior Pete Hill didn't return because of a chronic knee problem. The candidates to replace him are Tony Thompson, the second-year punt snapper, and Zach Enyeart, redshirt freshman offensive lineman from Skyline High outside Issaquah.
• Freshman Tyson Pencer, a 6-6, 263-pound tight end from Delta, B.C., has been declared a "non-qualifier" by the NCAA Clearinghouse and has returned home. Doba said WSU is exploring an appeal because he said the confusion is over translation of the Canadian secondary school grading system, which uses numbers instead of letters.
• A third new cornerback — Romeo Pellum, a freshman from Norwalk, Calif. — is earning praise from Doba. Chima Nwachukwu from Allen, Texas, and junior college transfer Devin Giles also have impressed the coach in camp.
• Walk-on freshman kicker Wade Penner from Corvallis, Ore., was reaching the end zone with kicks. That is significant because the new yard line for kickoffs is the 30, which is 5 yards farther than last year in a move designed to have more kickoff returns rather than touchbacks. Penner is likely to redshirt because the Cougars have senior kickers in Romeen Abdollmohammadi and Loren Langley.
• Practice highlights Wednesday included an interception by defensive end Mike Graise, an impressive pass breakup by safety Husain Abdullah and two long catches by freshman speedster Jeshua Anderson.
• While Doba was being interviewed, a reporter's pen went dry and he quickly borrowed a spare from a colleague. "That's like going to practice without a whistle," Doba cracked.
• Eric Block, who led Bellevue to three Class 3A state championships as a quarterback, said he has enjoyed his first four days as a college safety. "It's good so far," he said. "There's a lot of learning and I'm trying to pick it up quick. I'm watching the people ahead of me and try to learn from them." Block turns 18 next month and is the second-youngest player in camp.
Craig Smith: 206-464-8279 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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