When Tyler Bruggman signed with the Washington State Cougars back in 2013, it was a major recruiting victory for Mike Leach as he appeared to have found his quarterback to take the Air Raid to new heights in Pullman. But after a redshirt last season and a tough spring session, Bruggman has decided to leave Pullman and transfer elsewhere, ending his Cougar career before it got started. With the “quarterback of the future” now no longer on the roster, how will WSU deal with an alarming lack of depth under center?
Bruggman was a four-star recruit out of Pheonix that Leach was able to sign despite a late push by the Arizona State Sun Devils. It was a huge signing for WSU as Bruggman projected to be a big-armed quarterback who could launch the ball all over the field, which made him the perfect triggerman for the Air Raid down the line. But for whatever reason, that talent didn’t seem to translate to the field right away and Bruggman struggled during the team’s spring game as he battled for the backup job with walk-on Luke Falk.
Perhaps due in part to how poorly he showed during the spring, Bruggman made the decision to leave WSU, which leaves the Cougars in a bit of a bind in terms of quarterback depth. While they return fifth-year senior Connor Halliday to the No. 1 quarterback spot, the depth chart behind Halliday is unproven. Last year’s backup, Austin Apodaca, transferred out of the program this winter after appearing in three games, including one in relief of an injured Halliday against the Stanford Cardinal.
Without Apodaca and Bruggman on the roster, the Cougars will rely on Falk as the backup and incoming freshman Peyton Bender to round out the depth chart. Falk, at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, was a major surprise during the spring as he looked terrific during the spring game, though he has yet to prove what he can do against live competition. Bender, meanwhile, is a three-star prospect from Florida and ranked as the No. 29 pocket passer in the 2013 recruiting cycle. At just 6-foot-1, 177 pounds, however, he will need to bulk up before he can survive on the field.
For now, the team will do their best to keep Halliday upright and healthy for 2014 and avoid having to throw their untested backups into the deep end too early. But looking ahead to 2015 and beyond, will the loss of Bruggman, a.k.a. the “quarterback of the future,” set the Cougs back or is Luke Falk a true diamond in the rough?