Analysis: Laura’s Jayden’s short stint in Washington state left a legacy of electrifying highs and controversial lows | Washington State University Sports

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January 22 – PULLMAN – They overhauled their personnel and dropped their run and shoot attack. Therefore, the Washington State Cougars likely expected some of their players to hit the college football free agency market, known as the NCAA’s transfer portal.

Yet when Laura’s Jayden announced on Jan. 7 that he would end his college career elsewhere, the initial reaction was surprise.

And it was a fitting response from a fanbase that had watched the dynamic young quarterback rally to WSU to be eligible for the bowl after the team’s mid-season coaching shuffle.

The Cougar faithful had watched him mature over the past two years, steadily developing his leadership traits and blossoming into a rising star in the Pac-12 after taking the starting job at WSU as a true student. freshman before the 2020 season.

De Laura has drawn praise this season for deftly navigating the Cougar offense through a tumultuous campaign, during which three offensive-minded WSU coaches – including boss Nick Rolovich – were fired for not have complied with a state COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Jake Dickert took over from Rolovich in mid-October and repeatedly throughout the second half of the season called Laura a “catalyst” for the team’s success.

After being promoted to permanent coach on Nov. 27, Dickert repeatedly made his speech to de Laura, promising fans that the Cougs’ new Air Raid offense would center on the fiery Hawaii signalman who led the league’s first victory. WSU in Apple Cup in nine years. year.

So naturally, it was a bit of a shock when those plans for the future fell through – just a week after the end of the season, at that.

De Laura’s departure was sudden as it marked a new beginning for WSU, a change of identity for a Cougar offense that had been deeply influenced by the QB’s energetic, sometimes improvisational style of play.

His diligence this season has made him a popular hero among the Cougs, many of whom have predicted over the past few months that he would be the next standout in WSU’s recent string of great quarterbacks. Instead, de Laura leaves behind a complicated legacy marked by unfulfilled potential.

“We’ve entered a new world of college football and the portal has really changed the whole landscape,” Dickert said Jan. 11. “Everyone has their own individual situation that we constantly discuss. There has to be a plan and just knowing what’s next in our program.”

Maybe Laura’s exit was inevitable. After all, the Cougs seemed to be preparing for it.

As de Laura searched for suitors last month, WSU already had a successor in mind.

On January 10, the same day de Laura announced her commitment to the University of Arizona, the Cougars signed an intriguing rookie QB in Cameron Ward.

The transfer of the embodied word shone at FCS level under coach Eric Morris, who was hired last month to install a revamped version of the airstrike and coordinate the attack at WSU, which offered Ward an offer. end December.

Ward announced the offer less than an hour after the final whistle in WSU’s 24-21 loss to Central Michigan at the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31. De Laura started in the final, but had a tough first half behind a makeshift offensive line and didn’t play after halftime, reportedly due to a lower-body injury.

The program’s incoming OC wanted to bring their own field general, and that was undoubtedly one of the main reasons for Laura’s choice to transfer.

Generally speaking, the school’s change of coach was the deciding factor in Laura’s departure. The Cougars did not retain any offensive assistants from their 2021 squad. Losing players to the portal these days is a byproduct of rebuilding a college program.

De Laura is a lifelong student of the run-and-shoot offense, dating back to her prep days in Honolulu. He had been recruited by Mike Leach and mentored by Rolovich, with whom he formed a relationship at Pullman.

De Laura was a strong supporter of his former coach and clearly unhappy when Rolovich was fired. It would be fair to assume that de Laura began planning a career change long before she announced it.

In the end, he made a business decision and UA probably had the best deal.

The Cougars, meanwhile, knew they could speed up their rebuild with Ward at the helm, given his familiarity with the offense. Thus, a tempting deal was put in place for the sophomore, who chose WSU over Ole Miss after accepting a high-profile NIL offer.

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“He has a lot of upside in our program,” Dickert said of Ward. “Those relationships (with his teammates), he really specializes. Then you turn on the tape and the throws he makes – whatever level he is – are special.”

For one thing, it’s hard to ignore the assumptions surrounding Laura’s career in Crimson and Gray.

He’s the only true frosh to start at QB in Cougar history, and viewers could easily spot his high ceiling in his first season.

But de Laura suffered a setback when he missed spring camp last year while serving a suspension for an offseason impaired driving charge, of which he was later found not guilty. Rolovich began the transfer of graduate Jarrett Guarantano in Week 1. The coach cited decision-making and maturity issues as justification for Laura’s bench, who quickly regained his coach’s trust when he is came on as a relief for Guarantano in the WSU season opener against Utah State.

“He didn’t throw his helmet and jump into the transfer gate,” Rolovich said in early September. “He put his head down, went to work and was there for his teammates.”

From there, de Laura only got better as the year progressed. He led the Pac-12 in touchdown passes (23) and yards (2,742) in the regular season, and won the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

More importantly, he became a stabilizing presence for a fractured team and helped the Cougars change their narrative, turning what could have been a disaster into an uplifting season.

Is that how he’ll be remembered in Cougar Nation, as the feisty quarterback who planted Ol’ Crimson at Husky Stadium? Or will his abrupt exit overshadow his accomplishments?

Perhaps no one will wonder what could have been.

That is, if Ward is as good as his resume suggests.

A four-star recruit, Ward comes to Pullman as a top-five transfer QB in the nation.

The spokesperson-review conducted a Twitter poll earlier this month, asking voters to choose between Ward and Laura. Over 800 Cougar fans entered, and 54% of them chose Ward.

“I really mean it: it’s a fresh start,” Dickert said. “We’re moving on and moving forward. We’re excited to coach guys who want to be here and be a part of it.”

WSU List Check

A total of 28 players on the WSU 2021 roster have left school since the start of the season. Four of them declared themselves for the NFL Draft, ending their Cougar careers early. Thirteen were transferred, but only four played significant representatives last year – from Laura, center Brian Greene, right guard Cade Beresford and edge Willie Taylor III. The rest have either completed their college eligibility or graduated and decided to move on with the remaining eligibility.

The Cougars lose seven starters on offense and five on defense.

They’ve already replaced their QB and feel confident in their receiving corps, but need to strengthen on the offensive line and add a running back or two.

Lead linebackers Jahad Woods and Justus Rogers have finished their careers. WSU has signed a solid LB transfer in former Nevada star Daiyan Henley and is expected to promote veteran LB midfielder Travion Brown. The Cougs are returning a lot of experience to the D-line and cornerback, but the safeties will present some unfamiliar faces in 2022.

(c) 2022 The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington)

Copyright 2022 Tribune Content Agency.

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