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Could Washington State's Syrus Webster be the Cougars' answer at edge?

Apr. 13—Aside from quarterback, the Washington State position group with the biggest question marks heading into spring football camp was the edge spot.

The Cougars are hoping fifth-year transfer Syrus Webster can be a major answer at a position that must replace two players who started a combined 83 games since 2019 — Brennan Jackson and RJ Stone.

Webster brings his 6-foot-4, 245-pound frame and his Troy Polamalu-like hairdo from Utah Tech in West Jordan, Utah, where he ravaged opposing offenses in the inaugural United Athletic Conference, to the Palouse where he hopes his skills will translate to a higher level.

"I think Cyrus is kind of that hybrid guy," WSU coach Jake Dickert said. "He's that mix between RJ and BJ — I really mean that when you see him play."

A monster in the FCS

While Utah Tech limped to a 2-9 record as a team last season, Webster had no trouble loading up the stat sheet at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

The then-junior began the season as the UAC preseason player of the year and ended it as a first-team honoree after compiling 79 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and four forced fumbles. The forced fumbles tied for third nationally in the regular season and the sacks were the second best in the conference.

But after three years of dominating in the FCS, Webster decided to look for a new challenge.

That desire took him to Pullman, and so far he's happy about his decision.

"It's early days, it's late nights, but it's the best feeling, and at the end of the day it's just football," Webster said after a practice recently. "It's supposed to be fun, it's supposed to be a brotherhood and I just love coming out every single day."

He's also making a good impression with his new teammates and coaches.

"His maturity has really blown me away," WSU defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding said. "We thought that when we recruited him, but I think if you asked anybody on our defense or our team, he's one of the more mature players. He's got leadership qualities, and I think the best is yet to come."

Webster said he's working to improve all his fundamentals in the spring — like footwork and hand placement — but once it all comes together, he's looking forward to flying around with his signature speed and explosive style.

Enjoying the competition

One of the best parts for Webster is the increased competition in practice.

The upbeat senior said he enjoys going head-to-head against guys like 6-foot-7, 323-pound offensive lineman Esa Pole on a daily basis.

"He just makes me better and I make him better," Webster said. "We've gotta go against each other to get each other better and that's what I want. ... I want to go against the best competition and he brings out a good side of me. He pushes me to excel."

A deep edge room with something to prove

That competition carries over to the edge group, which could see a deep rotation of players in the fall.

While the Cougars are missing their longtime starters in Stone and Jackson, there are a host of other players with experience competing for spots in the edge rotation. Former defensive tackle Nusi Malani, senior Quinn Roff, senior Andrew Edson, junior Raam Stevenson and junior Lawrence Falatea are the most notable.

WSU could potentially have three waves of edges rotating in to keep each other fresh. It's just a matter of separating the starters from the reserves.

"I think we're competing at a high level," Webster said. "We empower each other, we come out and just push each other to work. Coach Dickert said it best: nobody is getting a starting spot in the spring.

"When it comes to Saturdays we're going to have a lot of depth and we're going to be able to play a lot of people."

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, swiebe@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.