Cougar Corner: WSU Cougar Football Making News off the Field

Lew WrightSenior Writer IMay 2, 2009

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13:  A Washington State Cougars helmet showing the initials of Pat Tillman next to the American flag during the Arizona State Sun Devils against Washington State Cougars Pac-10 game at Sun Devil Stadium/Frank Kush Field on November 13, 2004 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Two members of the Washington State football program were named to the 2009 National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Hampshire Honor Society last week.

Vaughn Lesuma and Matt Mullennix excelled on both the gridiron and in the classroom last season, earning them this prestigious recognition.

Lesuma was an integral part of the offensive line, playing and starting 11 of the 13 games for WSU in 2008. He anchored the left side of the line with 10 games at tackle, along with another start at left guard.

Mullennix is quite a story. Over his football career at WSU, he was bitten by the injury bug more times than President Obama has scheduled press conferences.

As a result, Mullennix was granted a sixth year of eligibility last season. He was a starter on defense for all 13 games, flying off the end of the line in 12 games with one game from the inside tackle position.

The Hampshire Honor Society is comprised of college football players from all divisions that maintained a 3.2 grade-point-average or better, and started or were significant contributors in their final year of eligibility. Honor Society members must also meet all NCAA-mandated progress toward degree requirements.

There were 564 student-athletes from 266 schools honored in 2009, a 27-percent increase in size from the 2008 class. In its inaugural year in 2007, the Hampshire Honor Society honored more than 300 students from 195 schools.

These two fine examples of WSU student-athletes carry forward what has been a tradition for Cougar football. Last year Romeen Abdollmohammadi, Alex Brink, and Jed Collins, along with Mullennix, all were named members of the Honor Society.

Congratulations to both Lesuma and Mullennix.

Cougar News

PULLMANFormer Washington State wide receiver Hugh Campbell has been announced as an inductee into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the organization announced recently.

Campbell, who spent more than 20 years with the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos on the sidelines and in the front office, will be inducted into the Hall’s builders category at a ceremony held in Toronto, Nov. 3.

As head coach of the Eskimos, Campbell guided Edmonton to six consecutive Grey Cup appearances, winning five in a row from 1978-82. Following his coaching stint with the Eskimos, Campbell went on to serve as head coach of both the USFL’s Los Angeles Express and the NFL’s Houston Oilers.

He returned to Edmonton in 1986 as the team’s general manager, and later served as the team’s president and chief executive. The Eskimos won four more Grey Cup titles with Campbell in the front office (1987, 1993, 2003 and 2005).

Campbell lettered for WSU from 1960-62, hauling in 176 receptions for 2,452 yards, marks that currently rank third in each category on the Cougars’ all-time lists. He left school as WSU’s record-holder in each category, holding each mark for more than 40 years.

Jason Hill broke Campbell’s yardage record 44 years later in 2006 (2,704), and Michael Bumpus broke his receptions record 45 years later in 2007 (195).

Campbell was also elected to the builder’s category of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2000. 

Jason Gesser is taking another step toward his stated goal of becoming a Division I head coach. He has been named the varsity head football coach at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Wash.

Gesser has been a high school quarterbacks' coach for the past three seasons. The past two years, he's been tutoring the QBs at Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma, Wash. Prior to that, he helped out at Federal Way High School.

When the opening for a head football coach at Washington State came about two years ago, Gesser openly expressed his interest in the job. He maintained no illusions that his candidacy for the job would be given serious consideration. Every head coaching job in the Pac-10 is coveted by the top college coaches across the nation.

Gesser's passion for WSU would need a foundation built on a solid coaching record to have a shot to return to Pullman as leader of Cougar football.

Cougar Nation will always remember Gesser's fiery play that led the Cougs to not only victory, but the Rose Bowl in 2003. WSU defeated UCLA on their home field, the Rose Bowl, to earn the right to play in Pasadena in the granddaddy of college football games.

Typical of his competitive nature, Gesser could barely walk on a bum ankle that was heavily taped for the contest with the Bruins. No matter for this Cougar warrior. That game and every game, Jason Gesser was all about giving his best on the gridiron.

After graduating from WSU, Gesser spent time in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans before moving north to the CFL Calgary Stampeders. Gesser became serious about coaching when he moved to the AFL, which allowed him to spend quality time coaching up high school players. Before the AFL folded after last season, Gesser spent time with both Utah and New York.

Because of Gesser's love of the game, he was being working for Fox Sports Network Northwest, providing expert commentary covering college football.

Coach Ken Bone continues his fast-paced approach to Cougar basketball. 

The youngest player ever to verbally commit to WSU, Patrick Simon of Euphrata, Wash., changed his mind when Coach Tony Bennett left for the Virginia job. Given his age when he pledged to Coach Bennett—just 14—it didn't surprise many that the young man wanted to explore his other options. Simon "uncommitted" to Washington State.

Simon is one of the top high school basketball prospects in the Northwest. He led Euphrata to a 2-A state championship his sophomore year, earning an All-State selection along the way.

On the heels of his outstanding season two years ago, he was forced to sit out last year because of a foot injury. He is expected to fully recover this summer and be ready for a strong senior campaign.

Unfortunately for college coaches across the country, Simon had a chance to meet with Coach Bone this week.

So much for Simon jumping back into the college recruiting fray.

Coach Bone spent time discussing the style of play, what it means to attend Washington State and where Simon would fit into all of that.

Simon is going crimson and gray.

The pace is fast and the results thus far are impressive for the new men's basketball coach for Washington State, Ken Bone. 


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