The 2016 Washington State University football team included five former valley players, and three of those played in the National Funding Holiday Bowl game Dec. 27 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
Darrien Molton was Washington State’s starting cornerback and had three solo tackles along with an assisted tackle in the Cougars’ 17-12 loss to Minnesota. Jamal Morrow shared running back duties and rushed five times for 13 yards while also catching four passes for 20 yards. Treshon Broughton saw action as a cornerback in the Holiday Bowl and had an assisted tackle. Greg Hoyd III and Jeremiah Mitchell were also on the WSU roster.
Molton is a sophomore from Temecula and a Chaparral High School graduate. Morrow is a junior from Menifee who was previously at Heritage High School. Broughton is a college senior who moved from Tustin to Murrieta while in high school, attended Vista Murrieta High School, and also played at Fullerton Community College and Riverside Community College before joining the Cougars. Hoyd is a sophomore from Murrieta and a Vista Murrieta High School alumnus. Mitchell is a senior from Lake Elsinore who previously played at Elsinore High School and Riverside Community College.
“We’ve got some players from here,” said WSU head coach Mike Leach. “Over time we’ve started to get more.”
Washington State is located in Pullman and is one of 12 schools in the Pacific Athletic Conference. Leach noted that Southern California is a PAC-12 region, since that is the only top-level football conference in the area. Leach added that with the possible exception of Corvallis, where Oregon State University is located, Pullman is the only college town in the PAC-12. “As good as this conference is, they’re all urban settings except for us,” he said.
San Diego is also a former hometown of Leach’s wife, Sharon, who moved from San Bernardino to San Diego when she was in seventh grade and attended Pershing Junior High School and Patrick Henry High School before leaving San Diego to attend Brigham Young University.
Morrow was an honorable mention all-conference selection for 2016 and was the first Cougar running back to earn all-conference honors since 2009, when what is now the PAC-12 was the PAC-10. During WSU’s 13 games in 2016 Morrow gained 575 yards on 90 carries and caught 48 passes for 499 yards while scoring five rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns. He also returned three punts for 131 yards and two kickoffs for 23 yards, and his 1,217 all-purpose yards led the team. During the regular season Morrow broke the Cougars’ all-time career record for receptions by a running back; he has 142 career catches to date and the previous record of 120 was set by 1987-89 player, Steve Broussard. Morrow also holds the single-season team record for receptions by a running back; his 61 catches in 2014 broke Broussard’s school record of 59 which was set in 1987 and Morrow’s 48 catches during 2016 share fourth place on the all-time list of WSU running backs. Morrow was also a team captain for 2016.
“Most versatile running back that we have,” Leach said.
Morrow only started three regular-season games in 2016 but started four in 2015 and 11 in 2014. He had 87 rushes for 351 yards and 61 catches for 460 yards in 2014, and in 2015 he carried the ball 53 times for 347 yards while catching 33 passes for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Although Morrow did not play for the Cougars in 2013, he was on the scout team which emulates the formations of the upcoming opponent during practices and was named the Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year.
Molton started all 13 games in 2016 and had 71 tackles comprised of 54 unassisted and 17 assisted tackles while also forcing one fumble. He started 11 games during the 2015 season and earned freshman All-American honors for his 44 tackles including 34 solo stops, one interception, four pass breakups, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.
“He’s been a big part of our secondary,” Leach said.
Broughton made his first career start in the Cougars’ 2016 opener against Eastern Washington University and played in all 13 games during the season. His 17 tackles in 2016 consisted of 14 solo ones and three assisted stops, and he also had one interception and one forced fumble. He played in seven games during 2015 and made one unassisted and two assisted tackles.
“He’s gotten real competitive,” Leach said.
Hoyd, who is a linebacker, had three solo tackles and one assisted tackle in the three games he played during 2016. He played in one game during 2015.
“Getting better all the time. Good work ethic,” Leach said.
Mitchell, who was a defensive lineman, appeared in two games during 2016 and two in 2015. “He has struggled with injuries,” Leach said.