Gone: Mizell runs out of chances

INSIDE LINEBACKER C.J. MIZELL, who started 15 games over his two years in Pullman, has been dismissed from the Washington State football team following a weekend arrest, a source close to the matter tells Cougfan.com and which WSU later officially confirmed. The latest incident was the final straw in a pattern that had seen Mizell run into trouble with two coaching staffs at Washington State.

Mizell was arrested by Pullman police for fourth-degree assault and second-degree criminal trespassing — both misdemeanors — after an incident at a Washington State fraternity on Sunday morning, preceding the dismissal.

He is the second player to be dismissed since Mike Leach became head coach. In January, T.J. Poloai was let go for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Mizell's departure leaves an already thin inside Cougar linebacking corps stretched even further and likely opens the door for Darren Markle and others.

Note: About two hours after this report, WSU issued a short statement that reads in part: "Washington State University Head Football Coach Mike Leach said Tuesday that sophomore linebacker C.J. Mizell is not being retained for violation of team policy."

Prior to his arrest, Mizell had come under scrutiny of the new coaching staff for academic concerns, but he appeared to have subsequently gotten those in order. Mizell also returned several days late to Pullman for the start of classes in January, a move that got him into hot water with Leach, said the source.

Before Leach came on board, Mizell had found his way into the doghouse under former coach Paul Wulff. He was suspended for the team's game against Arizona last season for a violation of team rules. Earlier in his career, he had refused to practice at full speed on at least two occasions. He also changed out of his uniform and into sweats at halftime of this past season's finale against Washington this past November, apparently unhappy with his lack of playing time after coming back from a shoulder injury.

Mizell finished the 2011 season with 56 tackles, fourth most on the team.

Under Leach, Washington State is switching to a 3-4 defense for the 2012 season, putting a premium on inside linebackers, a position Mizell at times excelled at during his two years with the Cougars. With Mizell gone and Mike Ledgerwood graduated, the prospect of Bland returning from injury become that much more important.

Other inside linebacker prospects include Sekope Kaufusi, though outside linebacker might be his more natural position. Markle, a more natural inside linebacker and who will be a redshirt junior, figures to get a long look. So, too, could a quartet of speedy young linebackers: Chester Sua, Darryl Monroe, Logan Mayes and promising walk-on Cyrus Coen.

Additionally, WSU has several candidates in the 2012 recruiting class: Kache Palacio, Jeremiah Allison, Keith Ewiing, Khalil Pettway and Jacob Tuivaiave. Of the four, Tuivaiave would appear to fit the physical dimensions of an inside linebacker best at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds. He is so athletic "he could play about eight different positions," Leach said on Signing Day.

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