Summer is here, and that means we're starved for the return of football. Unfortunately, the entire month of July still stands between us and the opening of training camp, so for the time being, we'll have to reminisce to get our fix.
For this series, we're reaching back to the year 2000. Our goal is to find the best lineup combination for each program using only players from this century.
Today, it's the Washington State Cougars.
QB Jason Gesser: A three-year starter (and captain), Gesser led the Cougars to 10-win seasons in his final two seasons, including a co-Pac-10 title with USC in 2002. He shared the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year honors that season with USC quarterback Carson Palmer, who also won the Heisman Trophy.
RB Jerome Harrison: The Ghost set a single-season school record with 1,900 rushing yards in 2005, which led the country during the regular season.
C Kenny Alfred: He started 44 of 48 games from 2006-2009 and was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection each year.
OL Calvin Armstrong: Named first-team All-Pac-10 in 2002 and 2004.
OL Joe Dahl: After transferring from Montana following the 2011 season, Dahl became WSU’s best offensive lineman in more than a decade. He was drafted by Detroit in the fifth round of the NFL draft in April.
OL Josh Parrish: He broke into the starting lineup five games into his freshman year in 2000, and finished as a first-team All-Pac-10 pick in 2003.
OL Derrick Roche: Started 36 games over his final three seasons, and was named first-team All-Pac-10 in 2001 and 2002.
TE Troy Bienemann: A capable receiver (94 catches, 1,072 yards receiving) and blocker, Bienemann got a brief shot in the NFL after a standout career.
WR Brandon Gibson: He left as the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (2,756) and was second in receptions (182) before being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round of the NFL draft.
WR Jason Hill: Ranks second in conference history with 32 touchdown receptions. Was drafted in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2007 NFL draft.
WR Gabe Marks: Already the school’s all-time receptions leader (227), Marks enters his senior year within striking distance of Nelson Spruce's conference receptions record (294). He’s averaged just over 75 catches a season, including 104 last year.
K Drew Dunning: He is the school’s all-time leader in field goals made (68) and field-goal percentage (.773).
DL Rien Long: He won the Outland Trophy in 2002, when he finished with 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss.
DL D.D. Acholonu: He ranks second in school history with 32.5 sacks, including 16.5 in 2003, when he led the Pac-12.
DL Mkristo Bruce: A second-team All-American selection by the Associated Press and Walter Camp in 2006, Bruce is third in school history with 29.5 sacks, and second with 45.5 tackles for loss.
DL Travis Long: A bright spot in an otherwise forgettable era, Long finished his career with 42 tackles for loss (No. 4 in school history) and 20.5 sacks (No. 6).
LB Raonall Smith: A second-round pick of Minnesota in the 2002 NFL draft, Smith was the Sun Bowl MVP in 2001, and a second-team All-Pac-10 selection.
LB Will Derting: At times, he was one of the nation’s most dominant defensive players, but injuries slowed him as his career went on. A first-team All-Pac-12 pick as a sophomore in 2003.
LB Greg Trent: His 323 tackles are the most of any WSU linebacker in the past 20 years.
CB Marcus Trufant: After helping WSU to the Rose Bowl during the 2002 season, he was named to several All-America teams and drafted No. 11 overall by Seattle in the NFL draft.
CB Jason David: Second in school history with 16 interceptions, David had a knack for making the big play. He was drafted by Indianapolis in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL draft.
S Lamont Thompson: Single-game (4), single-season (10) and career (24) record holder for interceptions. Thompson was a first-team All-American in 2001, and a second-round pick in the 2002 draft.
S Deone Bucannon: One of two first-round picks the school has produced this century, Bucannon is WSU’s fourth-leading tackler all-time (384) and No. 3 in interceptions (15).
P Kyle Basler: Reid Forrest received heavy consideration, but Basler gets the nod thanks largely to his performance in the 2003 Holiday Bowl, where he earned defensive MVP honors.