The two most valuable players for the Washington State Cougar football team this fall have potential to not just make noise in Pullman, but might just gain the attention of folks all around the Pac-10.
Most everyone will agree that for the Cougs to significantly improve in 2009, their offense has to step up. Step might not be strong enough. Leaps and bounds are more like it.
No. 2 of the Top 10 players for WSU this season is a young man who had a tremendous spring practice.
Why would Roxas rate such a high ranking when it's possible he may not even be established at one position going into fall camp?
What is it that this writer sees that even the WSU 2009 Football Prospectus doesn't note?
Talent, versatility, hard work and a real team player. Roxas is all of that and then some.
Offensive Line Coach Harold Etheridge spoke highly of Roxas play during the spring. While starting center Kenny Alfred was still recovering from an injury, he stepped up and led an offensive line that showed why Cougar fans can expect vast improvement when WSU has the ball this year.
The running game. WSU has nice depth at running back and with Roxas anchoring part of the OL, the speed, power and quickness of those backs will be on display. By moving to center on the OL, Roxas adds depth to Coach Etheridge's troops.
Roxas may find himself playing tackle this season but coaches will count on him to fill in where the need is greatest.
Experience. This will be the third season for the young man from Sun Valley, Calif. As a true freshman, Roxas played in 11 of the Cougs 12 games. That included a start at center in the UCLA game after Alfred went down with an injury.
A natural leader, Roxas was captain of his high school team senior year.
When it comes to size, Andrew checks in at 6'2" and 300 pounds. He knows how to use his size and strength to full advantage as well.
Roxas would have been a force last season were it not for an injury after the Oklahoma State game. He was starting at left tackle, but had to sit out the next three games to recover. He returned to the WSU first string lineup against Oregon, starting in seven of the final nine games.
In most cases, the only notoriety connected to an offensive lineman comes when they are whistled for a false start or a missed block allows the opposition to blow up a play. That's one of the prime reasons you may not be familiar with the name Andrew Roxas. He doesn't miss blocks. He doesn't draw holding penalties. He doesn't miss the count.
There's nothing flashy or spectacular about my No. 2 pick. He's not that type of player. Roxas will have no trouble with others grabbing the spotlight with highlight reel plays. His focus is on the big picture.
The play of the Cougs big guys up front will dictate just how improved they are under second year Coach Paul Wulff. Ask my No. 2 pick as a top player this coming year how to measure his team's improvement, you're likely to get a simple answer.
Winning Washington State football games.
That's what Andrew Roxas is all about.
Originally published on Examiner.com