Leach clarifies eligibility status of WSU WR

THE ELIGIBILITY OF Vince Mayle, who has been listed as both a junior and senior, has been a frequent discussion point among Washington State fans. CF.C asked coach Mike Leach for clarification on the matter during Tuesday's Pac-12 football coaches teleconference.

Mayle graduated in 2009 from Inderkum High School and then enrolled that fall at Shasta Community College in California, where he played basketball. That started his collegiate eligibility clock, which makes this his redshirt senior season. But the 6-foot-3 wide receiver told Scout.com last year that he left college to be with his mother, who was suffering from an illness. Mayle later enrolled at Sierra College, where he had 984 yards and 16 touchdowns on 61 receptions last year.

Because of the extenuating circumstances, Leach said he believes Mayle, who had 118 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions during Saturday's win at California, deserves an extra year of eligibility.

"Yes, we've already filed it, I believe," Leach said.

This would not be the first time the NCAA would allow another year. And it is not the first time the Cougars have recruited a junior-college player with undetermined eligibility. In 2000, then-coach Mike Price expressed confidence that the NCAA would grant Milton Wynn an extra year of eligibility based on hardship. Wynn's appeal was denied, but the decision seemed to work well for all parties as he was selected in the fourth round by the St. Louis Rams. Meanwhile, Price signed Jerome Riley to fill the void left by Wynn's departure.

Mayle was not the only player who had a breakout performance at California. Leach also was impressed with junior quarterback Connor Halliday, who completed 41 of 67 passes for 521 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

"I thought he played good and I thought he had a lot of explosive plays," he said. "I thought it was his best day commanding our offense."

Halliday used that effort to secure the Cougars' biggest blowout win in conference play, 44-22, since they defeated UCLA by 22 points in 2006. Entering the seventh week of the season, the Golden Bears (1-4 overall, 0-2 conference) are the only Pac-12 team with a losing record. WSU (4-2, 2-1) figures to have a greater challenge when it hosts Oregon State (4-1, 2-0) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (TV: ESPNU). Beavers' quarterback Sean Mannion has completed 160 of 238 passes for 2,018 yards, 21 touchdowns and two interceptions this year.

"He's big and strong," Leach said of the 6-5, 220-pound OSU signal-caller. "He's quite experienced."

He also noted that Mannion is capable of hurting opponents on deep routes if his offensive line proves him time.

The Mannion discussion then led into the strength of the Pac-12 as several teams feature quality quarterbacks. Leach, who guided Texas Tech from 2000-09 and led the Red Raiders to 10 consecutive bowls, was asked how his current conference compares with the Big 12.

"Our top teams are big, strong and physical just like the Big 12," he said. "The Pac-12 from top to bottom is really competitive."

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