Three transfer receivers commit to Washington State
PULLMAN – Washington State restocked its receiving corps, securing commitments from three Division I transfers who played significant roles at their previous stops.
Former UNLV standout Kyle Williams and Josh Kelly, a big threat at Fresno State the past three years, both committed to the WSU football program at noon Saturday. A few hours later, the Cougs picked up a commitment from another veteran receiver in Isaiah Hamilton, who spent the last five years at San Jose State.
WSU shored up a handful of shortstops just one day after announcing the hiring of new offensive coordinator Ben Arbuckle, who led Western Kentucky to a very productive 2022 season.
Williams, Kelly and Hamilton, given their experience and production, should be expected to fight for first-team responsibilities next year in Arbuckle’s modified version of the Air Raid.
Williams recorded 1,568 yards and nine touchdowns on 117 receptions in 25 games over the past three seasons.
A graduate of St. during the six-game campaign. Williams was also named a second-team All-American rookie by the Athletic.
The 6-foot, 185-pounder finished second on the team in 2021 with 601 yards and two scores on 41 catches, including a long 75-yard reception. He posted 541 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns with 40 catches in nine games last season. Williams missed three games with an ankle injury.
Williams, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, chose WSU over reported offers from Colorado, Pitt and Cal.
Kelly amassed 1,315 yards and four touchdowns on 86 receptions over the past three years with the Bulldogs.
Kelly redshirted at Fresno State in 2019 after finishing his prep career at nearby San Joaquin Memorial High. He grabbed a starting job before the 2020 season and finished the year as the Bulldogs’ third-most productive receiver with 330 yards and a TD on 22 catches.
The 6-1, 185-pounder became the Bulldogs’ No. 2 passer in 2021 and brought home an honorable mention All-Mountain West nod after recording 778 yards and three scores on 52 catches. Kelly dealt with injury issues this season and was limited to six games, during which he gained 207 yards.
He will provide a deep ball target for WSU quarterback Cameron Ward. Kelly had four catches of 60 yards over the past three years.
Kelly entered the NCAA transfer portal on Dec. 14 – three days before Fresno State defeated WSU 29-6 in the LA Bowl. He received offers from Kansas, San Diego State and Nevada, among others. Kelly is eligible to play two more collegiate seasons.
Hamilton, a transfer with one year of eligibility remaining, amassed 1,566 yards and 10 touchdowns on 98 receptions in 39 games between 2019-22 at San Jose State.
According to 247Sports, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was limited this season with an injury, but shined in the Spartans’ postseason run. Hamilton set career highs with 137 yards and a TD on five catches in San Jose State’s 41-27 loss to Eastern Michigan on Dec. 20 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. He entered the NCAA’s transfer portal two days later. He chose WSU over offers from UConn, North Texas and Wyoming.
Hamilton joined San Jose State in 2018 from Charter Oak High in Covina, California. He claimed a starting spot as a redshirt freshman in 2019 and led the Spartans with 16.7 yards per catch that season, totaling 718 yards and four TDs on the year.
He couldn’t maintain his high level of production during the 2020 and ’21 seasons, recording 620 yards and four TDs in 19 games. Hamilton has been in and out of the lineup this season, but returned to form in his San Jose State finale. He finished the year with 228 yards and two TDs on 11 catches in six games.
WSU needed receiving options after losing its top four pass rushers after the 2022 season — slotbacks Renard Bell and Robert Ferrell graduated and outside receivers De’Zhaun Stribling and Donovan Ollie transferred out of the program. Backup outside receivers CJ Moore and Anderson Grover also entered the transfer portal.
The Cougars added three receivers during the NCAA early signing period last month, including a juco prospect with intriguing potential in slot receiver DT Sheffield.
Returning pass rushers include Leyton Smithson, Orion Peters, Lincoln Victor and Tsion Nunnally. Smithson, of Bellingham, started six games last year during his true rookie season and totaled 235 yards and two touchdowns. Peters played sparingly as a redshirt freshman in 2022 and finished with 138 yards. Victor entered the season as a rookie but lost his first-team job early in the season and finished with 245 yards off the bench. Nunnally saw some time as a redshirt freshman backup and came up with 70 yards.