PULLMAN -- Over the course of his WSU career, starting TE Tony Thompson hasn’t won as much as he would have liked or played as much as he would have liked. Go up and down the roster, however, and it’s doubtful anyone has savored the Washington State football experience more than Thompson.
“It is a dream come true for me to playing here,” Tony Thompson said. “You just have to count your blessings.”
Thompson, of course, is the son of legendary Cougar quarterback Jack Thompson. Tony grew up dreaming of playing for the Cougars. He arrived as a walk-on, but in his third year on scholarship, he’s starting at tight end for the first time as a fifth-year senior.
Tony is honoring his father this year by wearing Jack’s No. 14 jersey. The number goes back into retirement after the season, and Tony said Jack gets a kick out of seeing a crimson No. 14 jersey flying about the field 31 years after Jack was a senior.
“He won’t really verbalize it as far as ‘it’s cool,’ but I could tell there’s a little bit of twinkle in his eye,” Tony said. “It’s really cool because he told me he’s coming to every single game this year and so far he has, home and away. It’s been cool to see him after the games and hang out with him.”
Thompson is just one of the Cougars who have managed to remain upbeat and enthusiastic despite a 1-5 start. He said the team has grown closer on and off the field, and that’s led to improved morale.
“I shouldn’t say I’m surprised, I’m just happy with it,” Thompson said. “I’m very pleased to see guys are really maturing this year.”
CAL COACH Jeff Tedford said he has not talked to WSU running back James Montgomery (who spent two years at Cal) since his near-fatal leg injury last month because Tedford only learned this week about the serious nature of the injury.
“James is a great young man,” Tedford said. “I have a lot of respect and admiration for him.”
Montgomery’s playing future won’t be determined for several months. He was dripping wet after a workout Tuesday with other injured Cougars.
“The nice thing is, his attitude’s great like always,” Cougar coach Paul Wulff said. “If somebody can overcome something like this, I really believe he has the ability to do that.”
A MIDSEASON ANALYSIS on the Cougs by former Seattle PI reporter Ted Miller, now with ESPN.com, can be found here. Miller named senior center Kenny Alfred WSU’s offensive MVP for the first half, and true freshman defensive end Travis Long was Miller’s pick on defense.
WSU coaches have picked Alfred as the Cougars’ offensive player of the week in five of six games this season. Long and linebacker Louis Bland have been named twice on defense.
FORMER COUGAR QB Ryan Leaf tells The Toronto (Ontario) Globe and Mail newspaper caught he’s found happiness and anonymity in Canada. Click here.
THE COUGS HAVE sold about 3,200 of their allotted 4,000 tickets for next week’s game with Notre Dame in San Antonio.
FORMER WSU DEFENSIVE coordinator Robb Akey went a dismal 3-21 in his first two years as head coach at Idaho that included second year losses of 70-0 to Arizona and 51-28 to Western Michigan. But the long-suffering Vandals, in Year 3 of the Akey regime, are 6-1 and likely headed to a bowl game for the second time in school history. The Vandals have received a huge lift from senior transfer DeMaundray Woolridge. An academic casualty at WSU, Woolridge leads the Vandals with 530 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns even though he has yet to start.
KEVIN FRANK WAS sentenced to 14 days in jail for his role in a winter dormitory burglary spearheaded by former Cougar Romeo Pellum. Both players were cornerbacks at WSU, though Frank redshirted as a freshman last year and never played for the Cougars. Frank now plays at Sierra (junior) College in Rocklin, Calif. Pellum is playing for Hampton (Va.) University, a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) school. Pellum faces up to three months in the Whitman County Jail after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary. His sentencing is due Dec. 18.
LESS THAN A week remains before the NBA regular season kicks off but former Cougar guard Thomas Kelati's bid looks to have fallen short -- he was just cut by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kelati, who spent the past four seasons in Europe, had played in five of six exhibition games. He was averaging just 1.6 points and 6.2 minutes, and he made only 22 percent of his shots.
Ex-Cougar guard Marcus Moore continues to fill up the basket as a pro in Mexico.
Moore is averaging 24.0 points, 3.5 steals and 2.5 assists after four games with Abejasde Guanojuato. Moore, who finished up at WSU in 2003-04, ranks 10th in school history with 14.3 points per game.
Forward Ivory Clark, playing pro ball in Hungary, is averaging 9.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and .67 blocked shots for Atomeromu SE Paks.
Guard Josh Akognon, who blossomed in the free-wheeling offense of Cal State Fullerton after transferring from WSU, seems to be paying the price for limited ball handling and defensive skills.
Akognon has yet to sign a pro contract, even though he ranked sixth in NCAA Division I last season with 23.9 points per game. Akognon did not help himself when he averaged just 9.1 points and made only 21 percent of his 3-pointers while playing for Nigeria at the African Championships in August.