Every college athletes’ dream is to one day make it to the Pros. The Washington State Cougars football team has some players looking to move on to the next level and play in the NFL. As the 2018 season is quickly approaching there are five players that we have highlighted and will follow all season in their journey for excellence.
The Top Washington State Cougars To Follow In 2018
James Williams – RB
Weight: 205 lbs
Classification: Redshirt Junior
Last season, Williams split time with star Running Back, Jamal Morrow, but will assume the role of taking most snaps this season. Williams had ample playing time, so we already have a taste of what he is capable of, rushing just shy of 400 yards with 92 attempts last season and adding 71 receptions totaling 482 yards. With the Washington State running backs, you need to look at the whole picture. They might not be 2,000-yard rushers, but they don’t need to be. Look for Williams to have well over 1,000 all-purpose yards.
Another key attribute is Williams’ ability to protect the Quarterback in the pocket through his blocking ability. Williams has a little more size than Morrow so he will be fun to follow and see how he progresses as a runner. Great blocking backs are not easy to find nowadays, and Williams could make a name for himself in 2018.
Davontavean Martin – WR
Weight: 185 lbs
Tay Martin will have a breakout year as a Cougar. Martin is one of the most athletic receivers on Mike Leach’s offense, and that is really saying something considering the company. He is very fast and uses his size very well. He might get some reps as a return man as well, so look for the all-purpose yards from Martin to be high in 2018. One key that separates him from other receivers in the country is his Yards After Catch (YAC). Defenders need to be ready to wrap him up, or he will break free. He has explosive moves to shake defenders, which makes him a prime candidate for any offense on Sundays.
Andre Dillard – OL
Weight: 310 lbs
Classification: Redshirt Senior
This will be Dillard’s 3rd year as a full-time starter for Washington State, which is always a big need for any offense. It all starts up front and anyone who lines up across from Dillard will have their work cut out for them. His size makes him very appealing for NFL teams. Pair that with his strength and you have quite the prospect on your draft board. Maybe the highest upside for Dillard is his technique. Technique is not a stat, so it is hard to measure, but Dillard will use this to his advantage in the trenches. Don’t expect him to give up a lot of sacks in this offense.
Nnamdi Oguayo – EDGE
Weight: 252 lbs
Classification: Redshirt Junior
Oguayo is the only returning starter for the Defensive Line this season. This will help his ability as a leader in his position group, which is one of those intangibles every scout looks for. With 34 tackles last season and 4 sacks, expect him to pressure PAC-12 quarterbacks all season. His motor will be a major factor in pressuring opposing QBs. He plays hard on every down, so tackles will have to bring their best if they intend on blocking him when the ball is snapped.
Jalen Thompson – S
Weight: 190 lbs
If the safety position is the last line of defense against the pass, then Thompson is the man you want downfield. He adds a special layer to the secondary, because of his ability to tackle receivers, as he did 73 times last year. In addition to this, he was responsible for four interceptions, which can really change the momentum and halt the rhythm of an offense. Look for Thompson’s vision and ability to read offenses this season. This helps explain why he seems to always be in the right place at the right time.
Sports Al Dente is your new home for coverage of the best players in the PAC-12 all season! Be sure to follow us all year as we follow these five Washington State players and give a documentary narrative style of how their years play out!