Chris Prummer already has earned his degree in zoology and serves as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the College of Veterinary Medicine at WSU. He’ll be interviewing this week at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.
But Prummer, who spent last summer working with UW spinal surgeons, has not shifted his loyalties. He said donning crimson and gray over on Montlake will be even more satisfying if the Cougars beat the Huskies on Dec. 4.
“When you come here, especially when you play, that game means so much,” Prummer said. “I’m from that area. To win that game gives you such bragging rights.”
IT WAS AN opportunity few expected. The 6-foot-2, 263-pound Prummer turned down scholarship offers from a pair of Division II schools, Central Washington and Western Washington, in order to walk-on at WSU. Liberty High coach Steve Valach, whose program produced Cougar defensive end Mkristo Bruce and kicker Drew Dunning, tried to talk him out of it, encouraging Prummer to accept one of those offers instead of walking on for the Cougars.
Prummer had different ideas.
“When someone says you can’t do something, you want to prove them wrong,” said Prummer.
“A lot of those smaller schools wanted him big time,” Valach said. “But that’s not what Chris wanted to do. He’s very single-minded on what he wanted to do. I respect him for that.”
Valach’s ’09 team played for the 3A state title and he’s coached the Patriots for 12 seasons but when it comes to d-linemen, he said Prummer remains the Liberty program’s gold standard. (Bruce was a QB and LB for Liberty) Prummer, the 3A KingCo Defensive MVP as a senior, had a league-best 14 ½ tackles for loss and six sacks.
“He’s the best we ever had,” Valach said. “He completely took over games.”
But Prummer weighed just 236 pounds as a freshman at WSU, and switched to o-line the following season. He has earned his way onto the playing field for 18 games during his Washington State career.
“It just goes back to being mentally tough and goal oriented,” Paul Wulff said. “Not letting tough circumstances deter his goals. That’s why he’s got a very bright future in front of him.”
Wulff placed Prummer on scholarship before the 2009 season.
“They give walk-ons a fair shot here,” Prummer said.
PRUMMER, WHO MAINTAINS a 3.9 grade-point average, last week was named to the Pac-10 All-Academic first team along with six other Cougars, the most in the conference. It was Prummer’s second straight first team selection.
He became interested in medicine after his mother, Gayla, was diagnosed with kidney cancer while he was in high school. He said her positive experience with doctors was a catalyst toward his career goal.
UNDER DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES, significant playing time for Prummer at WSU might not have occurred. Injuries were legion in ’08 and ’09. And while WSU’s recruiting classes in 2004 and ’05 were well regarded by recruiting services, Scout.com ranked them 21st and 47th, respectively, both were hindered by attrition.
Meanwhile, only four from the ’06 class -- Hannam, defensive back Anthony Houston, defensive end Kevin Kooyman and running back Marcus Richmond -- remain as fifth-year seniors.
“It’s hard to even come up with a list of people who have come through during that time,” Prummer said of playing and earning a degree. “It’s something I’ll take pride in forever. Not everyone is cut out for this kind of thing.”
“They’ve been 100 percent bought in,” Wulff said of Prummer and his senior class. “They’ve been very mature. They’ve never wavered and have done a great job. It’s why our team has continued to grow.”
That showed when the Cougars ended their 16-game conference losing streak with a dominating 31-14 win Nov. 13 on the road at Oregon State. The first player Prummer remembered seeing after the final whistle was right tackle Micah Hannam.
“Basically all the seniors were hugging each other and high-fiving,” Prummer said. “To finally put it together, and play how we were capable of playing, is hard to describe.”
FIVE YEARS AGO, Prummer’s high-school career ended with a 19-8 loss against Ferndale. The Ferndale quarterback was Jake Locker. And Prummer will now play the final game of his football career, one that began when he was 7 years old, against Locker.
He's looking for a far different outcome on Dec. 4.
Prummer would not be alone in going from the WSU gridiron to the UW medical school. Jeff Files went that route in the 1980s and before him, so too did Dan Doornink.