Preferred walk-on refines his game for WSU

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN Austin Kanouse (6-4, 270) racked up a school record 35 pancake blocks at South Kitsap High his senior year. Gaudy production like that has earned Kanouse a preferred walk-on spot at Washington State for 2013, but he still needed to refine his game if he planned on making an impact for WSU. He's spent the past year-plus doing exactly that.

The preferred walk-on spot didn't come easily for Austin Kanouse. The South Kitsap product said coaches at WSU told him he'd have to fight for playing time during his tenure in Pullman, but that didn't deter the gritty offensive lineman who plans on coming in and making a difference in any way he can.

"I hope this doesn't come out the wrong way, but the WSU coaches bring in freaks," Kanouse said. "These guys are 6-6… 6-7… 6-8. Geez, (Cody) O'Connell is 6-10! At 6-4, I'm going to have to fight for my spot on that line, something I very much intend on doing."

Height wasn't the only deterrent for Kanouse on his path to the Palouse. The Cougs throw the ball, something relatively new to former South Kitsap Wolf.

"I'm going to be honest, I didn't know how to (pass block)," Kanouse said. "At SK, we pounded the ball, I wasn't used to being on my heels. I'm a gritty guy, a punch you in the mouth kind of kid. Coaches came and said they liked me but I had to learn how to pass block. So you know what I did? I learned."

KANOUSE SAID HE spent the entire offseason leading up to his senior year with tennis balls in his hands, punching and popping a punching bag. Kanouse said he learned how to box and also worked on his footwork every single day for an entire year.

"Let's put it this way, I know how to pass-block now," Kanouse chuckled.

His pass-blocking development was also expedited his senior year with the introduction of a new head coach at South Kitsap, one who liked to throw the ball a little bit more.

Kanouse is a student of the game. He knows the intricacies of the trenches better than most and prides himself on his work ethic and faith. He chose Pullman over several smaller offers, wanting to ‘prove himself' on the biggest stage.

"I know I probably won't play for a couple years, but that doesn't mean I won't go unnoticed," Kanouse said. "I want to be able to fight for my coaches and give everything I can for them. I want to earn my full-ride after some time, but I'm going to go and earn and fight for my position."

KANOUSE SAID HE knew Pullman was the place he needed to be since 2009 when the recruiting trail began to pave way.

"We got to know coach Wulff and staff," Kanouse said. "I fell in love with the place. Automatically, WSU just clicked. My dad and I just hit it off in that town. By the time Wulff was fired, I was completely in love with Pullman. I knew it was home."

Kanouse said coaches expect him to come in and compete immediately in the trenches and push the upper-classmen during practice and grow into the rotation in a couple years. He said offensive line coach Clay McGuire likes him at center due to his size.

Kanouse held full-ride offers from Central Washington, Western Oregon and Idaho State among other smaller schools.

He said he plans on studying environmental policy or environmental safety in an effort to one day become a certified firefighter.

Something to also keep in mind: The addition might pay dividends down the road for the Cougs. Kanouse's younger brother Cody, 15, is already taller than his older brother. And area recruitnicks are already speculating he might be the next big-time o-line recruit out of South Kitsap along the lines of Tony Coats, Benji Olson and Andrew Peterson.

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