So today the Cougs take their vaudeville act on the road. This traveling mockery of the sport of football will face a resurgent Stanford team down on the Farm and I am sure many of you are wondering if there is any reason to tune in to the Bob-Rob and Jim radio-only broadcast. I say, emphatically, yes. Yes there is. This weekend you will get to see the vicarious fulfillment of Longball’s childhood dreams. As promised by Coach Wulff, a Pullman Greyhound and native son of the Palouse will take the field as quarterback of the Washington State Cougars.
Admittedly this dream-come-true could end up in 7 interceptions and a broken leg, but for now let me indulge in the hometown hero, scrappy underdog, legacy fulfilling, made-for-TV glory of JT Levenseller’s unlikely rise to quarterback of Quarterback U. Now you all know his dad, and by now you’ve probably heard the prophetic inspiration for the name JT, Jack Thompson. His name represents both ends of one of the greatest Cougar passing attacks of all time. Seriously, this story writes itself.Three years ago I was in the Tacoma Dome as JT, a Jr. in high school at the time, led Pullman to a state championship over a powerhouse Arch Bishop Murphy team. The victory was sealed by a late game drive capped off by a game winning touchdown pass from JT to his buddy Aaron Pflugrad (does that name sound familiar?). These guys were good. In fact they were so good that year they beat a Prosser team that finished runner-up in the state finals in the division above them. They started their season by blowing out a Hazen team that went to the state playoffs two divisions above them. That team’s success was in no small part due to the leadership, competitiveness, and raw athleticism of their field general, JT Levenseller.
As a kid who grew up in Pullman dreaming of doing what JT is about to do this Saturday, my analytical powers may be compromised by an imagination run wild. I really, really want JT to be the next great QB to lead the Cougars. It would be the fulfillment of a great Cougar legacy and an enormous source of pride to us Pullman natives. But my optimism is also based in the reality that in JT the Cougs have a great athlete, fierce competitor and a proven leader.
So today, sometime late in the first half (3rd or 4th series according to Wulff), I will be holding my breath as JT gets his chance under center. With the state of our team, his opportunity to shine is definitely limited. Our expectations should be tempered by the ominous facts Brinkhater and Sedihawk alluded to in their predictions, not the least of these being the Furd’s vaunted pass rush. But don’t be surprised if the kid from the Palouse, son of a crimson legend and namesake of one of our all-time greats, shows us the same kind of mettle and fortitude we saw in a scrawny freshman on a balmy night in Hawaii in 1999.