SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — It’s no surprise that Washington State’s receivers are productive in coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. But it is a surprise that true freshman River Cracraft is among the best of them.
Leach’s complicated schemes usually take time to sink in, but Cracraft took to them right away.
As a result, he’s caught 28 passes, tied for fourth on the team, for 355 yards. He’s averaging 12 yards a catch.
“He’s been really impressive,” Leach said. “He came in ready to play right away.”
Many freshmen are hesitant at first to compete for a job, but Cracraft “quietly went fast and went hard every single play,” Leach said.
“He’s been a starter since the day he got here,” Leach said.
Washington State (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) plays at Arizona (6-3, 3-3) this Saturday. The game follows WSU’s second bye week.
Cracraft, who attended Santa Margarita High School in California, said he has taken his cues from team leaders like quarterback Connor Halliday and top receiver Gabe Marks.
The 6-foot, 198-pound receiver also suffers from no lack of confidence.
“Wherever I have been, I always thought I could compete at the highest level,” Cracraft said. “I knew there were great receivers here, but I thought if I worked hard I could earn a spot.”
As for his unusual first name, Cracraft said there is a simple story: His grandfather used to live next to the River Clyde in Scotland. His full name is River Clyde Cracraft.
Washington State opened the season with eight straight games, then had both its bye weeks straddling a home loss to Arizona State. As a result, the Cougars have played only one game in a period of nearly a month. The Cougars came out flat in the loss to Arizona State and were steamrolled early.
Washington State needs to win two games to become bowl eligible, or all three to have its first winning season since 2003. After Arizona, the Cougars host Utah in the home finale and then play at archrival Washington.
Leach said there is no special sense of urgency for the remaining three games.
“You try your best each game,” he said. “There is no secret stuff we have packed away we are going to break out for special occasions. We want to do our best every play.”
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.