KAUFUSI GONE: LB depth now on life support

SEKOPE KAUFUSI

THE COUGS' LINEBACKER DEPTH has just gone on life support. Washington State told CF.C on Friday that Sekope Kaufusi has been dismissed from the team for violation of team rules. Kaufusi, arguably Washington State's best linebacker, was cited this week for two misdemeanors involving marijuana by the Pullman Police Department.

With Sekope Kaufusi gone, one thing is clear. Mike Leach is taking a strict, hard-line position when it comes to off field discipline.

WSU SID Bill Stevens told CF.C Kaufusi was dismissed from the team for an unspecified violation of team rules. Pullman Police Commander Chris Tenant told CF.C's Braulio Perez that a warrant was served on Kaufusi following a complaint the smell of marijuana was emanating from Kaufusi's apartment. Upon serving the warrant and entering Kaufusi's apartment, Kaufusi was cited for use of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia, both misdemeanors.

Leach earlier this year dismissed linebacker C.J. Mizell after an arrest on misdemeanor charges. Kaufusi and Mizell were the odds on favorites to win two of the starting linebackers jobs and by far the most experienced of the group.

Louis Bland hung up his cleats due to chronic injury this year, further depleting the depth. Leach also dismissed DT T.J. Poloai for a violation of team rules.

In terms of how it affects this spring, not much has changed. Kaufusi, rehabbing an injured shoulder, wasn't going to be ready to participate in spring drills. With Darryl Monroe out, (Achilles surgery), linebackers coach Jeff Choate told CF.C earlier this week he has six guys this spring for three of those spots (SAM, MIK, WIL).

With Kaufusi dismissed, Chester Sua, Darren Markle, Cyrus Coen and Logan Mayes would be the Cougars' most experienced players at linebacker. Only Sua (4) and Coen (1) have started a game. Three of the four will be second year players in 2012, with Markle a redshirt junior-to-be.

Leach hasn't given specifics on which players may move positions but he has said there will be some movement. Tana Pritchard, who redshirted last year, could be among the options at linebacker. He was a standout linebacker in high school and was being considered for the ‘backer position by the previous WSU staff before being moved to receiver.

And then Tyree Toomer and Tyrone Duckett are both big body safeties with linebacker skills, particularly against the run. RB Eric Oertel was a srong defender in high school and has shown early promise in special teamd. He could be another candidate to possibly move to linebacker in the spring.

A quintet of linebackers arrives later this summer -- Jeremiah Allison, Keith Ewing, Kache Palacio, Khalil Pettway and Jacob Tuivaiave – from the signed recruiting class.

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