Kenny Alfred offers advice to young Cougars

PULLMAN – Kenny Alfred has gone from longtime anchor of the Washington State offensive line to steadfast supporter of the direction of the football program. The old Cougar center, back in Pullman rehabbing a surgically repaired hip, has spent time this season watching his former teammates practice. And he's come away with distinct impressions.

"You know, I've seen more will to fight then I've seen in the last couple of years," Alfred said. "I've seen some young guys come out and play and you see some numbers that stick out in your mind like 86 (receiver Marquess Wilson), and 77 (offensive tackle John Fullington)."

The Cougars' cadre of athletic youngsters hasn't translated to wins but Alfred says there is no questioning the level of talent Paul Wulff is bringing in or the positive impact they're having.

"The cool thing about the stratified layers of talent that Coach Wulff has been able to bring in with his recruiting -- which has been very strong no matter what anyone says – is that it provides a whole lot of competition," Alfred says. The older players, he notes, have never been pushed like this before.

"I can tell you that they're going to keep playing hard and they're going to keep taking steps in the right direction no matter what anybody says or what anybody assumes outside of the program."

Alfred, who had a brief tryout with the Tennessee Titans last spring as an undrafted free agent, said he's also seen major steps in maturity and demeanor by the Cougars' young players.

Alfred said that while the lopsided scoreboard may not reflect it, the young team is making steady progress back to a competitive level.

"Is it the same progress that people would like to see?" Alfred asks. "Probably not outwardly but at the same time that's not really something you can see unless you're a part of the team or you really know the game.

"I'm excited to watch the kids keep making progress and keep doing the things that they're doing," Alfred said. "Right now I'm sitting back as a fan but I know the coaching staff cares very much and they're going to do the right things for the team."

Alfred has been a regular at Cougar practices and said that he talks to his former teammates trying to stir their emotions up. Asked what advice he's given the players, Alfred had no shortage of words.

"Mainly I've been saying that football's a process, practices are a process," Alfred said. "Everything that we do should be a process and once they enjoy that they'll get a better result on Saturdays. It's all kind of tied together and I think the kids at times where games are getting tough should keep their eyes off the scoreboard, not get too high, not get too low, just stay in the middle.

"They can only keep on fighting for what they're working so hard for and there's not a single kid that I've talked too that doesn't care more than anybody out there about the progress of this team."

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