Sorensen: Sizing up O'Connell and more

MIKE LEACH said last week that he's had players who weigh more than Cody O'Connell, who signed a letter of intent with the Cougs last week, but never one as collectively big. The Wenatchee lineman checks in at 6-foot-9 and 350-pounds. That of course begs the question: Will O'Connell be the biggest Cougar ever when he suits up this fall?

If the 6-9 height is correct, meaning O'Connell has grown an inch since last spring, he will tie Sam Lightbody as the tallest Cougar ever.

And if the 350 pounds is accurate, he will stand atop the scale as the heaviest Coug of all time, outdistancing 338-pound Rick Austin, an offensive lineman who lettered one season for the Cougs in the 1990s. (And while there is ample evidence to suggest Tai Tuapi of the early '00s checked in at 340-plus, there is no official listing from WSU that puts him near there.)

So, yes, O'Connell will indeed be the largest Cougar of all time. He knocks off Lightbody, who was not only 6-9, but 328 pounds as a senior in 2004.

O'Connell isn't the only extra-large body in the new recruiting class. Late pick up Riley Sorenson is 6-5 and 320 pounds.

What I find truly amazing is that those guys dwarf one of my old Cougar teammates, who at the time was an absolute monster. A check of the records shows that Big Allan Kennedy, who won a couple of Super Bowl rings with the 49ers in the ‘80s, was 6-7 and 275 pounds. He was truly considered a giant in his day. There had never been any one like him at WSU.

And yet today he would be 25 pounds too light to play on the offensive line.

Back to O'Connell for a moment. He missed much of the 2012 season with a knee injury, yet still earned all-classification All-State honors from the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune. That is no small feat, especially for a kid playing on the other side of the state.

And a final note. O'Connell is not fat. Leach called him a "flat stomach guy" last week. That sounds a lot to be like a bigger version of Allan Kennedy and Sam Lightbody. And that should make Cougar fans very happy.


  • OT Sam Lightbody (2001-04) 6-9, 328
  • OL Reed Raymond (1997-00) 6-8, 310
  • OL Patrick Afif (2003-04) 6-7, 325
  • DT Gary Holmes (1995-98) 6-7, 318
  • OL Riley Fitt-Chappell (2002-05) 6-7, 316
  • OL Ryan Tujague (1997-99) 6-7, 305
  • DT Josh Shavies (1999-03) 6-6, 317
  • OL Charles Harris (2003-06) 6-6, 320
  • OL Ryan McShane (1994-97) 6-6, 305
  • DT Tai Tupai (2000-05) 6-5, 325
  • OT Rob Rainville (1996-98) 6-5, 323
  • DT Leon Bender (1996-97) 6-5, 308

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  • WSU'S NEW LINEBACKERS COACH, Ken Wilson, is no ordinary addition to the staff. He spent 25 seasons at Nevada in a variety of positions that included defensive coordinator, assistant head coach and assistant athletic director. He became available to the Cougs when long-time friend and boss, Chris Ault, opted to retire. Wilson's work in recent months keeping Nevada's recruiting class together after Ault's announcement apparently was Herculean, according to those in the know. Mike Bethea, a graduate assistant at Nevada, is coming with Wilson to Pullman.

    DID YOU NOTICE THAT WSU TEMPORARILY fell about 10 spots in's national recruiting rankings this week? That's because the four grayshirts in the class were programmed out of the list when WSU hadn't included them on the school's official LOI Day press release. The issue was corrected at Scout and the four players – Markell Sanders, Dylan Hanser, Marcellus Pippins and Olito Thompson – were added back. In fact, the Cougars' recruiting class rank now stands at No. 37, up from No. 39 last week.

    The confusion over the grayshirts stems from a new NCAA rule, affectionately dubbed the "Les Miles Rule," that says schools can't over sign anymore. It sounds like most of the college football world is scrambling to figure how it all will shake out.

    THE OLD EXPRESSION THAT RECRUITING is like shaving -- if you don't do it every day you'll look like a bum -- is one that Mike Leach and his staff take seriously. We're just one week removed from 2013 LOIs being signed, and they're gearing up for a Junior Day event in Pullman this weekend.

    But more impressive is this: The Cougs already have made 20 known scholarship offers to 2014 prospects. The latest is 6-3, 280-pound Bellevue defensive tackle Marcus Griffin.

    SPRING FOOTBALL PRACTICES ON the Palouse begin March 21. The QB competition between Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca is going to be spectacular. And you know what else is spectacular? The Cougars return 19 of the 22 guys who started in the Apple Cup. True fact. The only seniors in the starting line up against the Dawgs were OL Wade Jacobson, QB Jeff Tuel and CB Daniel Simmons.

    BILL MOOS RECENTLY RETURNED FROM Pac-12 meetings and said some very interesting developments are on the broadcast horizon – developments that will generate significant money for the conference. And that means WSU could get an unexpected boost in its funding for the new football operations building that is underway. He didn't offer details, but I can tell you right now a ton of Cougar fans would be smiling wide if DirecTV were brought into the Pac-12 fold.

    There are rumors in Tuscaloosa that Alabama and Wisconsin may be squaring off in 2015 in one of those early season, neutral site, prime-time games. The date being floated is the same one the Cougars and Badgers are penned in for in Madison. When asked about it last week, Moos said that the home and home series with Wisconsin in 2014 and 2015 is still on. And as long as Wisconsin comes to Pullman in 2014, he won't be concerned about the 2015 game.


    Paul Sorensen played safety for the Cougars from 1980-81, earning first-team All-American honors as a senior. He later played in the NFL and USFL. From 1985-98 he was the color commentator on radio broadcasts of Cougar football. He has held a similar role on Eastern Washington University broadcasts over the last several years. Also a long-time assistant coach in the Greater Spokane League, he's been writing periodically for CF.C since 1999. His columns here are labeled SLAP! The acronym stands for Sorensen Looks At the Program. The word also aptly describes the way Paul played safety and the way he does color commentary: in-your-face, nothing held back.

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