LINEBACKER LOUIS BLAND started nine games as a true freshman in 2008 and at one point, Paul Wulff…
Bland comeback gets high centered
As a sophomore in 2009, Louis Bland played half of the season – primarily at middle ‘backer -- before going down with the knee injury. At the time he was on pace to be WSU's leading tackler for the season. He missed all of last season, redshirting and rehabilitating the knee. Bland started nine games as a true freshman in 2008, logging 55 total tackles, fourth-most on the team, from his starting spot on the strongside.
Although Bland is expected to be absent when the Cougars take the field on Monday for the first of 15 practice sessions, a pitched battle at linebacker this spring remains in the offing.
Wulff told CF.C earlier this month Bland was going to find significantly elevated competition for a starting role after missing 2010 and half of the '09 campaign.
"In the meantime, we've had some young football players step up and play. He's going to have to fight to get back onto the football field," Wulff had said of Bland, noting the strong play of freshmen Sekope Kaufusi and C.J. Mizell had dramatically strengthened the linebacking outlook.
Mizell started five games at MIK including the final four, concluding the season with 57 total tackles -- fourth-most on the team. Kaufusi saw action in 11 games last season despite injuries and at both at outside and inside 'backer. He started once, at MIK, and posted 22 total tackles in ‘10. The Cougs lose Myron Beck, the starter last season at the strongside spot, to graduation.
Alex Hoffman-Ellis returns for his senior campaign in 2011 after starting all 12 games at the weakside linebacker position. His 81 total tackles were second-most on the team this past season.
Mike Ledgerwood is also experienced -- though injury hampered much of his 2010 season, he started four games at MIK last season. Among the young guns looking to earn more playing time this spring will be Eric Oertel, listed as the No. 2 SAM behind Beck at the end of the 2010 season; and Darren Markle, who saw action in 10 games last season.
Darryl Monroe (6-1, 220) graduated from high school early and enrolled at WSU in January. How far along he is will be one of the storylines to follow this spring.
In the fall, Chester Sua, Logan Mayes and Tana Pritchard arrive. Wulff is high on all three and has said Sua could offer instant impact.
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