Coug LB will have surgery, miss season

LOUIS BLAND CAN'T catch a break. In his return to the field from knee surgery, the Cougar linebacker this spring wasn't ready and was shut down during spring ball. The knee hasn't responded as hoped, and he'll need to have another surgery soon, WSU Sports Information confirmed to CF.C. The surgery and rehab time will effectively end his 2011 season.

Louis Bland, who has previously missed 1 1/2 seasons to injury, is expected to be out 6-8 months, WSU SID Bill Stevens confirmed.

Bland was one of the Cougs' best players as a freshman in 2008 but was now facing significantly elevated competition for a starting role after missing all of 2010 and half of the '09 campaign.

"(Since 2008), we've had some young football players step up and play. He's going to have to fight to get back onto the football field," Wulff had said of Bland back in March, noting the strong play of freshmen Sekope Kaufusi and C.J. Mizell in 2010.

Losing Bland for the upcming season certainly isn't welcome news but the Cougar linebacking groups did have a strong spring without him.

Alex Hoffman-Ellis firmly established himself as the starting weakside linebacker, and middle ‘backer Mike Ledgerwood also turned in a solid spring and emerged as No. 1 on the depth chart there.

At SAM, Kaufusi took care of business in the classroom and has star potential if he continues to develop under Chris Tormey and stay healthy.

WSU also has some depth in the linebacking corps beyond those three, with C.J. Mizell, rising true freshman Darryl Monroe and Darren Markle all having their moments this spring. Mizell is a potential starter in the middle, Monroe was the first option at SAM this spring when Kaufusi was either hitting the books or when he got dinged and the WSU coaches like Markle's smarts out on the field.

WSU will also welcome Chester Sua, Logan Mayes and Tana Pritchard this fall. Wulff is high on all three and has said Sua could offer instant impact.

Bland will be a redshirt junior this upcoming season and will have missed two full seasons to injury by the time 2012 rolls around. Losing two (or nearly two) seasons to injury has generally been the standard for a potential sixth year to be granted by the NCAA due to injury.

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