"My dad gives me such a hard time, it's ridiculous," Mayes said. "I'll call him after a scrimmage or something, tell him I got a sack and he'll respond sarcastically with, ‘That's it?' He pushes me to go bigger and better all the time. He was such a high-performance athlete in his time here. His accolades alone push me to be a better player."
Mayes believes this year's Cougar defense is going to surprise a lot of people, and not just courtesy of those who have gotten the lion's share of the press this offseason.
"Guys like Xavier Cooper and Toni Pole are going to have really big years," Mayes said. "They're freak athletes and extremely hard workers. On top of that, Eric (Oertel), Chester (Sua) and Darryl (Monroe) have created quite a little trio of personalities back there at the linebacker position -- they've developed an identity together.
Our front seven is the real deal."
As for Mayes' own expectations, he refused to put a number on anything, adding that he doesn't want to jinx things.
"I'm gonna go out there and do my job -- my dad will make sure I'm aware of the numbers," Mayes laughed.
If Mayes can produce anything close to what his father did, Cougar Nation may be in store for some record-breaking performances.
MAYES SPENT THE first 15 years of his life in Pullman as his dad, former Cougar great Reuben Mayes, worked in the athletic department. Living in Pullman and having the lineage he had, Mayes was able to attend both Rose Bowl's, the Holiday Bowl, as well as the Sun Bowl.
"I got to see so much success first hand," Mayes said. "I was an absolute die-hard Cougar fan, and as I became closer to playing college ball, I knew I wanted to get the Cougs back to that greatness."
After moving to Eugene before his freshman year of high school, Mayes said his game really began to develop as he started to see results on the field. During his sophomore year at Marist High, Mayes began to receive interest from schools such as Oregon, Oregon State, and Boise State.
"Since WSU wasn't really showing too much interest, I kinda started telling myself, ‘I guess I could play somewhere else,'" Mayes said.
But when former head coach Paul Wulff and staff came calling during his senior season, Mayes was exuberant.
"I left the door open for schools like Stanford and Northwestern, schools known for excellent academics," Mayes said. "But when I visited Pullman again on my official visit, it was a done deal. I re-fell in love with the town all over again."
Mayes said he knew a ton of people from around town that he had grown up with, so coming back to Pullman was easy.
Mayes, up an eye-opening 20 pounds from last season, is making the transition from defensive end to BUCK linebacker for 2012, a change Mayes is ecstatic about.
"Before college, I always worked on my coverage skills," Mayes said. "I'm still working on my instincts and understanding different route combinations, but I love the position that BUCK puts me in. I love it. The position gives me a ton of freedom."
Mayes' progress was apparent in a 4.5 sack performance at the spring games this April in Spokane.
"The spring game, I didn't even feel ‘on' per se," Mayes said. "I've had some scrimmages and the Colorado game last year where I really felt ‘on', I felt in the zone. In that spring game, I was just doing my job. It's exciting because it means making plays is becoming more natural for me. It makes me feel like I'm becoming an impact player."
Mayes and the Cougs will look to start stacking up wins August 30 in Provo against BYU in the season opener.
Mayes gets plenty of motivation on home front
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