Who is Paul Volero and how did he get to WSU?

WHAT A DIFFERENCE a year makes. Paul Volero was wrapping up his second season as the defensive coordinator at Key West High School last year at this time. Today he finds himself smack dab in the middle of the Marquess Wilson Saga that is making headlines across the country and plummeting the receiver's draft stock faster than a Jacque Cousteau diving bell.

Except for the most ardent Cougar fans, Volero's name is an obscure one. At least until yesterday when Cougar center Elliott Bosch was asked about what transpired in the locker room at halftime of WSU's big loss to Utah two weeks ago.

"Coach Volero came up and had the o-line and d-line and wanted to fire us up. He grabbed some guys by the chest plate and took a look in their eyes. He wanted to see if they wanted to win … that's all he was really doing."

The reason Bosch was asked was because Wilson cited physical abuse among his grievances of the WSU coaching staff, but offered no specifics until his stepfather Richard Miranda told the Seattle Times that Wilson was referring to halftime of the WSU-Utah game when, Miranda said, "some coaches were physical, putting their hands on players, pushing them into lockers. That's just hearsay, but it's hearsay from people within (the locker room)."

Wilson has not returned phone calls or texts seeking clarity on the accusations he has leveled.

And now Volero, seemingly living the good life in sunny Key West a year ago is apparently a key character in a drama that has pulled in WSU President Elson Floyd, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, TV news tickers, and the front page of ESPN.com this morning.

So who is Paul Volero and how did he end up in Pullman?

The simple answer to the first part of that question is that he's a first-year Washington State assistant coach assigned to outside linebackers, though he actually spends considerable time working with defensive linemen on their technique coming off the edge.

The mildly deeper answer to the first part of that question is that he's a married father or two who grew up in Miami and played NAIA ball at Glenville State in West Virginia under Rich Rodriquez before starting his coaching career, also under Rodriquez, at Glenville in 1996.

For anyone who has spent time at a Cougar practice, Volero is easy to spot, even though he stands well under 6-feet tall. That's because he's a coach straight out of central casting. His build is stout, his hair is gone, he's boisterous, and he has a raspy voice.

He also communicates physically. When players do something great, he'll give ‘em a chest bump or a helmet pat. In that way, he's something of a Robb Akey-type.

The combination of voice and high on-field emotion might suggest he'd make for a great interview subject. But he's not. After a practice, he tends to stick with coaching clichés about great effort and hard work no matter what question he's posed with.

Volero's coaching resume includes several high school stops, the University of South Florida (2003) under Jim Leavitt, West Virginia (2004-06)under Rodriquez, and Central Michigan (2007-09) under Butch Jones.

When Jones left Central Michigan for Cincinnati, Volero and his wife Nesa decided to move back home to Florida, where he became the defensive coordinator at Key West High.

Were it not for a chance meeting on a pier there he wouldn't be in Pullman today. He and Leach had met before at various coaching conventions, but struck up a friendship in Key West after a bumping into each other on a pier after a day of fishing.

For more insight into Volero, click to FootballScoop.com's video interview with him this past spring.

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