Future Coug's injury won't affect WSU plans

WHEN COUGAR O-LINE commit Cody O'Connell suffered a torn ACL in late September, his mind was racing a mile a minute. His No. 1 question -- was his scholarship offer to play football at Washington State still on the table? It's not uncommon in college football, and so would the 6-8, 350-pounder have to look at other options or would he still wear crimson in 2013? We talked to O'Connell to find out.

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  • Cody O'Connell suffered the season-ending left knee injury in Wenatchee High's 34-14 loss at Eastmont on Sept. 21 and is sidelined for at least the next six months rehabbing. Schools' written offers generally address the possibility of injury, and a school sometimes make the decision to move on.

    But shortly after his injury, with his spirits down in the dumps, WSU offensive line coach Clay McGuire got in touch with the massive o-lineman who verbally committed to the Cougs back in May to deliver some uplifting news.

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    "We talked and Coach McGuire told me that Washington State was going to stick with my offer," O'Connell said. "He and the rest of the coaching staff have been really supportive of me -- and I told them that I'm going to work my butt off to come back from my injury and be a Cougar."

    O'Connell, who suffered a sprained MCL and torn meniscus in addition to his ACL tear, told CF.C he's appreciative of the coaching staff's support.

    "It takes a lot of stress off of me," O'Connell said of WSU keeping his scholarship offer intact. "It motivates me to come back bigger and stronger and to do work on the field. Even though I'm hurt and can't play my senior season, I know I still have the chance to make a difference in college. A lot of people can't say that."

    FOR NOW, O'Connell must focus on the rehab process. The doctors were optimistic following a successful surgery last Thursday and he will begin physical therapy in the coming weeks. In addition, O'Connell has talked to the staff about sending him a rigorous training program he can start upon after he signs his National Letter of Intent on Feb. 6.

    Although he now finds himself sidelined from the gridiron, O'Connell has taken on a new football role: Cougar football analyst.

    He said he's been watching the Cougars throughout the season and has seen several ways he can contribute to the offensive line when he arrives to Pullman.

    "I think I can do some very good things in the Air Raid offense," O'Connell said. "I've been used to run blocking and in high school we run some no huddle offense here at Wenatchee. I know the WSU offense throws the ball a lot more, but I was kept in good shape with our offense's style of play. It's a little different but I think I can get used to it."

    O'Connell said he and McGuire have talked about him playing different positions up front at the next level, but left tackle is one that is the most intriguing to the Wenatchee native. But O'Connell also said his number one goal is to try and get some playing time as a true freshman and he understands LT might not be the right spot for him to do so.

    "If anything, I see myself being a right guard my first year," O'Connell said. "I'm just going to work as hard as I can and try and play as a freshman. If that doesn't work out, it doesn't matter to me if I'm on the scout team. I'm fine with redshirting."

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