A memorable debut on the Palouse

Jessamyn McIntyre introduces us to the player who cinched Washington State's victory to highlight what has been a busy week here at the newsletter.

Jessamyn McIntyre checks in from the Cougars sideline where she’s part of the Washington State radio broadcast, introducing us to a linebacker whose name you’ll need to know this season: Daiyan Henley.

He’s a linebacker who transfered from Nevada, and all he did in his first game with the Cougars was lead the team with eight tackles — three for a loss — and clinch the game with an interception in the final 15 seconds.

But first, a quick round-up of my work for the week.

While I don’t think it was advisable that a reporter tease LSU coach Brian Kelly over his team’s loss in the season-opener, I don’t think there was anything wrong from an ethical or moral standpoint. And given the way Kelly treats people, I enjoyed watching him get dunked on as I explain in my weekly column for Jason Barrett’s sports-radio newsletter.

This week’s newsletters for paid subscribers of The Dang Apostrophe:

Then there’s the weekly podcast on Husky football, which Christian Caple of The Athletic has been nice enough to include me on. It’s now available on Spotify, Apple and anywhere you get podcasts including something called Deezer:

OK. Now it’s time for some actual honest-to-goodness journalism.

Henley’s moment has arrived

By Jessamyn McIntyre

It was a moment that would leave an imprint on the rest of his life. Daiyan Henley should know because he has experienced a few of those recently.

In the final minute of Henley’s first game with the Cougars, the linebacker picked off a pass, solidifying Washington State’s 24-17 win against Idaho.

Henley allowed himself to enjoy the moment, but only for 24 hours.

“You can’t think about the past too long in this game, whether it’s good or it’s bad – it’s about wiping the slate clean and moving onto the next opponent,” said Henley in a conversation on Wednesday. “You have to treat every opponent with that respect and come in fully locked in.”

Before looking forward, I asked Henley to look back. Not too far back, but earlier this year when he was in Reno walking through the stadium where he had played the past five seasons. He was headed to a congratulatory dinner, a celebration for his graduation, when he got a phone call that would open up a new chapter.

“Coach (Jake) Dickert told me they were offering me the full ride and I was pretty ecstatic,” said Henley. “I enjoyed the moment with my own teammates and the alumni when I was there. Shortly after, I was able to tell my parents and talk about it more in depth.”

The deal wasn’t sealed quite yet. Commitment is a heavy responsibility and Henley remembers where he was when he made it. He woke up on a couch in Los Angeles, and with other offers on the table, he made a call to Pullman where his smile was matched by the two coaches he talked to.

“Coach Dickert and Coach (Brian) Ward were on the other end (of the line),” Henley said. “I said, ‘I’m going to commit to you guys.’ I could see the smile, I could hear the smile on their faces. But I knew in that moment, and maybe a little before that, I was going to be a Coug.”

Henley still craves his Mother’s mac’n’cheese and spends his downtime watching rom-coms (yes, you heard that correctly), but has more goals for the Palouse.

“People care about the Cougs here – everyone is a Coug. There’s no division,” said Henley. “I fell in love with the unity I see here in Pullman.”

Henley has personal goals. All elite athletes do, but looking forward to the remainder of the season, he maintains the team goals of going 1-0 every week, alongside his new brotherhood.

As much as he focuses on the today and the now, there are moments to cherish in his first game in a Power-5 conference, which Henley makes a spot for in his memory.

“I just put it away, to the side,” he said of that game-clinching interception. “In a little box so I can open it up and look at it.”

Here’s to looking at Henley’s future and more he can put in the box. He led the team with eight tackles in the victory over Idaho. He also had three tackles-for-loss.

Henley and the Cougars will face a formidable opponent this weekend in Wisconsin, which handily defeated Illinois State 38-0, the same day Henley officially took the field as a Coug.

A personal note: Jessamyn McIntyre is the sideline reporter for the Cougars radio broadcast. We worked together for 8 years at 710 AM, a Seattle sports station, where she was the executive producer. I will always be grateful for the encouragement and advice she offered, especially when I was first trying out radio, and I’m really thankful that she’s contributing to this newsletter. She is a hell of a friend.

Join the conversation

or to participate.