Wazzu edgerusher Rodgers enters NCAA transfer portal

Rodgers

Will Rodgers III, a 19-game starter who led the Washington State football team in sacks last season, entered the NCAA transfer portal Monday, 247Sports reported.

One of the Cougars’ most vocal defensive leaders the past few years, Rodgers remains on the WSU roster but will apparently gauge other schools’ interest in picking him up for one season. He’s a 6-foot-4, 249-pound senior edge rusher from Saginaw, Mich.

The Cougars (1-1) play Stanford (0-2) on Saturday (8 p.m., FS1) at Stanford, Calif. The Cardinal are favored by 2½ points.

Rodgers started the Cougars’ season-opening win at Oregon State and made two tackles. But he was replaced in the starting lineup by Ron Stone Jr. last Saturday in a home loss to Oregon. He played sparingly and had no stats.

He played defensive tackle last season but converted to edge rusher this year with the arrival of new defensive coordinator Jake Dickert and his 4-2-5 scheme. In 2019 he started 10 games, made 27 tackles and led the Cougars with four sacks.

Rodgers becomes the third WSU defensive player to enter the portal in the last few months, following Skyler Thomas and Lamonte McDougle, both of whom have been removed from the Wazzu roster.

Bill Gaskins dies

Former WSU defensive back Bill Gaskins, an All-American in 1965 and a beloved member of the Cougar athletic community for decades, died Thursday in Pullman at age 76.

No cause of death has been announced.

Gaskin was a member of the Cardiac Kids of 1965, featuring one of the premier defensive units in school history.

He was also a sprinter for the track team and spent four decades as a pharmacy professor at the school. He spent several years officiating football games and later was a fixture in the WSU press box as an evaluator of officials.

“Bill Gaskins was a great Cougar,” WSU athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement. “An All-American and Cougar Hall of Famer for his accomplishments on the playing field, those paled in comparison to his work after, where he impacted countless lives as an instructor, mentor and friend at the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pullman Regional Hospital. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Hector gets Pac-12 nod

For the second time in as many weeks, a Cougar has been named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week.

Ayden Hector claimed the award after recovering two fumbles and intercepting a pass during a span of three Oregon possessions.

Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura won the same award last week.

Bell and Harris show

Entering the first year of the Nick Rolovich coaching tenure, the Cougars knew their receiving stats would be less widely distributed than they were under Mike Leach.

They weren’t necessarily expecting two players to have three-fourths of the catches.

Through two games, though, slotbacks Renard Bell and Travell Harris have 16 catches apiece, 10 more than Z receiver Jamire Calvin. The only other receptions are by X receivers Lucas Bacon and Calvin Jackson Jr. (two each) and running back Deon McIntosh (one).

That’s a far cry from last season, when seven players finished with at least 43 snags.

As expected, Rolovich is seeking a more balanced run-pass ratio than Leach favored. The Cougars are passing 56 percent of the time so far, compared with 77 percent in 2019.

McIntosh, the only running back with any carries, is averaging 7 yards a carry and 120 a game. Last week the Cougs attempted to give a carry to second-year freshman Jouvensly Bazil, but the handoff was fumbled.

Star running back Max Borghi has missed both games with an undisclosed injury. Rolovich, asked Monday if he expects to have Borghi’s services this season, said it depends partly on how long the season lasts. He was referring to the uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dale Grummert may be contacted at daleg@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2290.

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