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Originally published Friday, August 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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WSU Football | Four freshmen to debut on Seattle stage

Whatever the extent of rebuilding must be done at Washington State under first-year football coach Paul Wulff, it won't be heavily shouldered...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Whatever the extent of rebuilding must be done at Washington State under first-year football coach Paul Wulff, it won't be heavily shouldered by the 2008 freshman class.

Wulff said Thursday that four true freshmen will make the trip today to Seattle with the Cougars, who play Oklahoma State Saturday at Qwest Field. A fifth, linebacker Louis Bland, will likely play later this season if he recovers from a foot injury.

The four traveling are receivers Jared Karstetter and Kevin Norrell, linebacker Mike Ledgerwood and safety Tyree Toomer. Karstetter is listed as a starter against Oklahoma State; the others are backups.

Karstetter has emerged partly because of injuries to Jeshua Anderson and Daniel Blackledge. He was MVP of the Class 4A state basketball tournament last winter as Ferris High School of Spokane completed a second straight title run with a 58-game winning streak.

"He's got good ability, and he's a great competitor," Wulff said. "I think his ability will only increase in the offseason as he gets stronger."

While four isn't a large number of true freshmen expected to play, there are another six redshirt freshmen in the WSU two-deep. One is 6-foot-4, 311-pound Steven Ayers of Sehome High School in Bellingham, who subs for injured left tackle Vaughn Lesuma.

"I was a big fan of his," Wulff said, referring to when he coached at Eastern and Ayers was at Sehome. "When he came to the Cougs, I knew he was a good player. He's big and he's got light feet. He's got a lot of the right things."

Ayers joins guard Brian Danaher, a walk-on from Colfax, Whitman County, as new faces on the offensive line.

"He brings some violence to the position," Wulff said of Danaher. "He's very tough. We like those guys."

Scholarly matters

Washington State is limited to 79 scholarships this year because of NCAA academic sanctions. Wulff says the Cougars are at 73 or 74 after departures this week of Andy Roof (expulsion), Dan Rowlands (chronic shoulder problems) and former Bellevue High receiver Keith Rosenberg, now known as Keith Parr.

Of Parr, Wulff said, "He was battling a knee injury his whole career here. We weren't even sure he was going to play this year. When it got close to camp, he felt he could make a run at it, and he did well; he was actually playing, practicing and improving. I just think he felt he had a better opportunity to play [elsewhere]."

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Notes

• Wulff said WSU is allowed a travel squad of 64, but likely will bring 62.

• The Cougars have a tentative walk-through today at Qwest Field, which hosts the Seahawks tonight against Oakland.

• The timing of Lesuma's return from a back problem is uncertain. Wulff said he could return next week for California, but "we certainly don't want to bring him back too early, to where he misses the next six weeks."

• Sophomore K Wade Penner will start against the Cowboys. Neither he nor junior-college transfer Nico Grasu had a consistent camp, but Wulff said Penner had a 6-for-6 field-goal effort Wednesday.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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