Role Reversal

Oct. 14, 2004

Washington State sophomores Scott Davis and Steve Dildine combined to rush for 6,722 yards and 106 touchdowns during their respective high school careers.

So what are they doing playing linebacker for the Cougars?

'A lot of times you can take a good high school running back and turn them into a solid linebacker,' WSU Head Coach Bill Doba. 'Obviously, you have to have good athleticism and speed at running back. When you combine that with a guy that is aggressive and has a nose for the ball, you have yourself a pretty good linebacker.'

Davis starred at Kennewick's Kamiakin High School, where he was the Big Nine Conference's co-player of the year as a junior and senior. Incredibly, Dildine played just one year of high school football, racking up 2,265 rushing yards and a then-state record 45 all-purpose touchdowns. But both knew from the start that they would be playing on the other side of the ball at WSU.

'I pretty much knew coming in that I would be playing defense. The coaches had talked about it with me and I was excited to be a part of it,' Davis said.

'I didn't really know where I would end up when I got here,' Dildine added. 'I thought maybe defensive back, but they liked my speed at linebacker. They felt like I just needed to get a little bigger and stronger and I would be a good fit there.'

Both players are getting their first extended action as starters this season. Davis started two games as a freshman in 2003, earning Pac-10 All-Freshman team honors from The Sporting News. Dildine was a special teams standout, compiling 16 tackles and recovering a fumble. Their impact this season will be far greater.

'Scott Davis amazes me,' Doba said. 'He is very intelligent. He doesn't look like your typical linebacker when he walks in the room. The only thing he does is make plays all over the place and he is an outstanding football player.'

Through two games, Davis is doing exactly that, making plays. He led the Cougars with nine tackles against Colorado, including two for a loss. Against New Mexico, the 5-11, 225 pounder had five tackles, two pass deflections, and a sack. Doba praised Davis' pass coverage skills.

'We just try to get 11 hats to the ball and make plays,' Davis said. 'We are missing nine starters from last year's team, but we felt pretty good about the guys that we had coming back and we are just going out every week to prove that we can be the same type of defense.'

Dildine has eight tackles and has developed a reputation for being one of WSU's heaviest hitters.

'Steve has a lot of potential,' Doba said. 'He has great speed and he can run and make plays. I expect him to be offsides on a blitz and I expect him to miss a tackle or two, but he is a unique young man. He is a former BMX bike racer and he is a little bit crazy. That's what it takes to be a good linebacker.'

Davis and Dildine flank All-America candidate middle linebacker Will Derting to form one of the best young linebacking units in the conference. Davis. Derting. Dildine. 3-D has a ring to it.

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