Wulff talks injuries, Jeshua, the JVs & more

PAUL WULFF

FOOTBALL PRACTICES at Washington State don't begin until August 9 but there's already plenty of injury news –- some encouraging and some not –- to report. There's loads of other crimson football news as well, including a plan by Paul Wulff to bring back a type of college football competition that hasn't been seen in decades.

Headlining the bad news side of the injury ledger is Louis Bland, who as a true freshman played a stellar brand of outside linebacker, particularly in the second half of last season. Wulff said this week that he has some concern that Bland won't be fully recovered from spring knee surgery in time for the season opener Sept. 5 versus Stanford.

Also questionable for the opener, according to Wulff, are redshirt freshmen defensive backs Terrance Hayward and Jay Matthews. Both underwent shoulder operations in the spring. Hayward was listed as the No. 2 right cornerback on the most recent depth chart, with Matthews the No. 3 strong safety.

Wulff said, however, that two key players are recovering nicely from major operations: defensive tackle Bernard Wolfgramm (back) and running back/return man Chantz Staden (knee).

Wolfgramm, who redshirted last season, is listed as the Cougs' starting right d-tackle while Staden, a sometimes starter in the backfield last year, is in an '09 running back mix that runs six deep with potential starters, (James Montgomery, Dwight Tardy, Logwone Mitz, Marcus Richmond, Chris Ivory and Staden)

WULFF SAID WIDEOUT Jeshua Anderson, WSU's top returning pass catcher, is skipping the unofficial summer team workouts for the second straight season due to his extended track season as a hurdler. "I respect the fact that he needs a little time away," Wulff said.

Anderson, the two-time defending NCAA 400-meter hurdles champion, has been resting and training back home in California since his track season ended at the USA Track and Field nationals on June 28.

"This is a very unique situation," Wulff said. "You always want them here as quickly as possible … but sometimes when you're a multi-sport athlete, it can be mentally draining."

Anderson's track season ran even longer last year. After reporting to football camp -- "You could just tell he wasn't mentally into it," Wulff said -- Anderson quickly suffered a sports hernia that sidelined him for the season opener.

THE WHITMAN COUNTY Prosecutor's Office announced Wednesday that theft charges have been dropped against Cougar safeties Tyree Toomer and LeAndre Daniels. In a news release, prosecuting attorney Denis Tracy said the players believed the four bicycles they took June 9 "under the view of many people" on campus were abandoned. Tracy said the players gave "their complete cooperation in the investigation."

THE PRE-SEASON MAGAZINES are pretty much all forecasting the Cougars for a No. 10 finish in the Pac-10 this season but Wulff -- despite having a team loaded with unproven players -- is steadfast in his goal this year: "We want to be in a bowl game. Obviously, as we get up to that level, we want to put ourselves in a position to (eventually) compete for a Pac-10 championship."

WULFF SAID HE HOPES to field WSU's first "junior varsity" football team in years for a game this fall against one of four unofficial community college teams being formed in Washington. Wulff said he will use freshmen and sophomores as long as the Cougars have enough healthy players and the NCAA confirms that participating in such a game won't cost players a year of eligibility.

Volunteer coaches plan to help revive junior college football in the state with teams at Yakima Valley, Green River, Tacoma and South Puget Sound. Athletes must pay $300 to play.

Before 1972, when the NCAA lifted its ban on true freshmen playing varsity ball, JV college football was a thriving endeavor. WSU's freshman team was unofficially nicknamed the CouBabes. WSU continued its JV program on a limited basis into the early 80s.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Colorful ex-Cougar and NFL player Robbie Tobeck will be the featured speaker at the 47th annual Cougar Sports Banquet and Auction on Aug. 20 at the Mirabeau Park Hotel in Spokane Valley. Other scheduled speakers include Wulff, men's basketball coach Ken Bone, women's basketball coach June Daugherty, baseball coach Donnie Marbut and athletic director Jim Sterk. Tickets are priced at $75 or $85, with proceeds going to WSU athletic scholarships. Register online at wsucougars.com. For more information, contact Lori Olson at (509) 358-7541 or olsonl@wsu.edu.

  • Former WSU quarterback Mark Rypien picked up $6,150 for finishing 19th -- one notch behind Michael Jordan -- at the annual American Celebrity Championship golf tournament in South Lake Tahoe, Nev. The one-time Super Bowl MVP won the inaugural event in 1990. Former major league pitcher Rich Rhoden won the following year, and he's repeated as champion seven times, including the past two years. Rhoden earned a whopping $125,000 Sunday. By comparison, NCAA rules prevented Cougar golfer Nick Ellis from taking home one thin dime when he placed fourth overall to lead all amateurs at the Rosauers Open PGA sectional event last weekend in Spokane.

  • Romeo Pellum, WSU's starting left cornerback last season, tells CF.C he is transferring to a school on the east coast. "I start fall camp August 10," he said, though he declined to identify which school. He is leaving WSU following a run-in with the law. Pellum, Kevin Frank (who also has left school) and Tyrone Justin were suspended from the WSU team back in March due to their alleged involvement in a burglary and/or theft. All face trial dates scheduled for later this year.

  • The Cougars lost out on one quality line prospective recruit when California prep star Hroniss Grasu, the brother of WSU kicker Nico Grasu, made a verbal commitment to Oregon. (Verbal commitments are not binding, official Letters of Intent for high school seniors are signed the first Wednesday in February.)

  • Former WSU assistant head coach Kasey Dunn, now the running backs coach of the Seattle Seahawks, was featured in the Kitsap Sun newspaper of Bremerton. The link is http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/jul/20/dunn-brings-football-back-home/.

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