It's tough being a Cougar in Duck Country

LOGAN MAYES is a Cougar living in Eugene, which recently hasn't been all that comfortable. It's the home of Oregon, the Pacific-10 Conference football champions that made a historic run to the BCS Championship game on Jan. 10. In the run up to the championship game, Mayes thought at first he would root for the hometown Ducks. It didn't take long to change his mind and side with Auburn.

"I wouldn't say it's hard living here, but it's different. You're in enemy territory for sure," Logan Mayes said. "Duck fans can be so obnoxious. I got to saying ‘War Eagle" a few times."

It won't be long until Mayes puts Eugene in the rear view mirror. The standout linebacker at Marist High School makes his return to Pullman official on Feb. 2 when he'll sign a letter of intent with Washington State. He's also in town this weekend, for his official visit to WSU.

Mayes, the son of Cougar great Rueben Mayes, lived in Pullman for most of his childhood before moving to Eugene prior to his sophomore year at Marist. Mayes can't wait to get back to Pullman this summer, when he'll begin preparing for his freshman season with Cougar football.

Mayes, Oregon's 2010 Class 5A defensive Player of the Year, has fond memories of Pullman. The family had a house near Lawson Gardens, where Mayes recalls spending many a summer night playing tag and "Capture the Flag" with friends. Mayes was around WSU football during its high point, when the Cougars were regularly playing in bowl games.

"It was really a nice small town. You never had to worry about crime or being a long way from any location in town. At the same time, it felt like a college town," Mayes said. "A great experience, really safe. Your parents didn't have to worry about you. I look forward to going back."

Mayes believes leaving Pullman following his freshman year was a blessing in disguise. The family moved to Eugene as Rueben Mayes took a job as regional director of development for Sacred Heart Medical Center.

"It was a bummer leaving Pullman, but I have enjoyed living in Eugene. It's kind of a bigger market, and I think that helped my career," Mayes said.

Several colleges, including Oregon, Northwestern, Oregon State and Stanford, chased the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Mayes following his junior year. But Mayes quickly ended the drama, announcing last May that he would attend Washington State.

"I wanted to check out the other schools and see what they had to offer, but even if they had made early offers like WSU, I would have stayed true to Washington State," Mayes said. "I think a lot of it had to do with my dad. It's definitely an advantage I wanted to take, as opposed to a place I didn't know."

Mayes has often heard about Rueben Mayes' incredible 357-yard game against Oregon in 1984, particularly during his stay in Eugene. Mayes isn't afraid of trying to live up to the Rueben Mayes' legacy at Washington State. In fact, he embraces it.

"In general, I'm not feeling a lot of pressure to live up to what he did," Mayes said. "I don't see it as a curse. I can't say what it would be like I were playing running back. I guess it would be more specific in terms of a measuring stick. I'm happy the way things have worked out."

Mayes said he and his father have a bit of a friendly rivalry. They sometimes wrestle in the house.

"I took him on one time, and I pinned him. He kind of got mad, so next time he sort of got me down, acted like he pinned me, and quit. We need to have a rubber match," Mayes said. "We're pretty competitive. When I was little and playing middle school football and soccer, whenever I'd do good, he'd say "Yeah, that's OK, but when you get a scholarship to a D-1 school, then talk to me.

"I get the scholarship, so now he's saying, come talk to me when you're all-pro. I guess I'll have to do that to show him up."

Mayes, who said his WSU future is likely at outside linebacker, carefully followed the Cougars this past season. He was in Corvallis on Nov. 13 when Washington State had its breakthrough performance of 2010, a 31-14 beatdown of the Beavers.

"That was the game that looks like how we'll play in the future. A really physical team with a quarterback who can move the ball," Mayes said. "Everyone seemed really tough, even the quarterback (Jeff Tuel) was lowering his shoulder and trying to get extra yards."

Mayes said he plans to sign his letter of intent in Marist's gymnasium with teammates Matthew Devereaux and Logan Silver, football standouts who have yet to decide on a college. Mayes is leaning toward skipping track and field this year. Instead, he plans to spend time training in preparation for his first football season at Washington State.

"It's going to depend on how camp goes and how we stack up physically, but I'll definitely have an opportunity to play next year," Mayes said.

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