The suspense builds for who will be my No. 1 pick as the most important and potentially valuable player on the Washington State Cougar football roster this coming season.
OK, leading with ridiculous hyperbole is unbefitting any self-respecting sports writer.
Describing the improvements made by Washington State football coaches and players over the course of this off-season as "dramatic" is spot on.
Spotlighting players who will lead to the resurgence of Cougar football is meant to simply wet appetites for the opening game against Stanford.
This being the third article of the Top 10 series, it's time to reveal No. 8.
To refresh your memory on which Cougar football players have been spotlight thus far, here's my initial two picks for the Top 10 in 2009:
No. 10 - Marshall Lobbestael
No. 9 - Johnny Forzani
The timing of my pick for No. 8 is serendipitous. Staying with the Cougar no-huddle offense for 2009, the importance of the role Jeshua Anderson will play this fall is significant.
Anderson is a football guy that runs track. And when talking track, we're talking serious track.
Friday night he successfully defended his NCAA 400m hurdles title. In the process, Anderson broke a school record for the event with a blistering time of 48.47.
Who's record did he break? His own. While establishing a new WSU record for the 400m hurdles, he earned the title of back-to-back NCAA champion. That, my friends, is impressive stuff.
Tough, gritty and focused. Those terms better describe Anderson on the athletic field than the usual speedy, quick and gifted applied to the majority of wide receivers and track stars.
At the start of last season, Anderson was slowed a bit as he recovered from hernia surgery. Slow for him is comparable to fast for just about everyone else on a football field. Missing the season opener a year ago, Anderson started the final 11 games.
One look at Anderson's stats for last season and you will see a big part of why Washington State didn't put many points on the scoreboard:
Coach Paul Wulff didn't have a quarterback on the field long enough last year to develop much of a passing game. Anderson was reduced to running quick hit patterns or he might not have even recorded a single catch on the year. World class track stars are deep threats, not guys who run slants and hooks.
The true value of Anderson to the WSU squad will be apparent when fall camp begins. Due to his passion for track, Anderson has yet to participate in a spring camp in Pullman. He's busy showing all collegiate hurdlers in the nation what he looks like from behind while blowing away 400m hurdle fields at every track meet.
Expect Jeshua to put up big numbers for Washington State in 2009. Whenever both Anderson and Johnny Forzani are in the game at the same time, opposing defenses better blitz and get to the Cougar quarterback because there isn't a defensive backfield in the conference that can cover both of those guys going deep.
It will be great to see the high-powered aerial attack of WSU return to the gridiron this fall.
Next up as I work up to No. 1 is my No. 7 pick.
Originally published on Examiner.com