The Mullennix Factor

BLOOD IS THICKER than water, the old saying goes, but blood hued crimson and gray appears to have a density in a league of its own. Just ask <b>Wallace</b> and <b>Jeremey Williams</b>...or <b>Jerry</b> and <b>Collin Henderson</b>...or <b>Ammon</b> and <b>Shawn McWashington</b>. Or better still, just ask the latest Cougar football father-son duo, <b>Scott</b> and <b>Matt Mullennix.</b>

Washington State defensive end Matt Mullennix was just seven years old when he stumbled across his father's scrapbook. Inside this all but forgotten relic he discovered pages and pages of newspaper clippings and photos of a certain Cougar player, wearing No. 58, who looked suspiciously like his father.

Indeed, it was his dad, Scott Mullennix, a standout linebacker for WSU during the 1974-75 seasons, and that scrapbook turned out to be all Cougar recruiting coordinator Robin Pflugrad would need to sign Matt on at Ol' Wazzu over a decade later.

"From that point on, I really made up my mind that I was going to be a Coug—no matter what," Matt told Cougfan.com.

Despite being hampered by a hip flexor injury, the 6-6, 250 pound redshirt freshman from Spangle was praised by the Cougar coaching staff as the most improved lineman during fall camp and earned a spot as a key reserve on the D-line rotation. He's seen extensive action on the strong side in WSU's opening four contests and recorded a career best three solo stops against Arizona last weekend.


Matt Mullenix

"Matt is a tough, hard-nosed aggressive son of a gun. His motor is always going. I think he'll be a great help for us this season," WSU defensive coordinator Robb Akey said. "A lot of guys would not play through what Matt did this summer. He's just plain tough."

TOUGHNESS WAS A word closely associated with his dad, now a Spokane police officer, during his days on the Palouse and at Spokane's Shadle Park high school.

All but written off by the coaching staff after breaking a leg prior to his sophomore season, Scott was determined to prove them wrong. He did just that, starting much of his junior year in 1974 and, the following season, becoming one of the most respected linebackers on the west coast.

"If I can be half the player my dad was, then I am going to be very happy," Matt said.


Scott Mullennix

Scott earned second team all-conference and second team all-West Coast honors following the '75 campaign—recognition that's even more remarkable when considering the Cougs did not win a single Pac-8 game on their way to a dismal 3-8 record. In addition, he was named WSU's defensive player of the year.

Despite some lean years on the Palouse victory-wise, Scott wouldn't trade his time as a Cougar for anything. But his glory days fall a distant second to the pride he feels watching his son play for Ol' Wazzu. He gets the same goose bumps watching Matt run out of the tunnel as he did during his playing days and feels a bit of déjà vu seeing a jersey on the Martin Stadium field with his name on the back and the familiar No. 58.

"Matt took it upon himself to ask the coaching staff for my old number, that meant a lot to me," Scott said. "To have played for the Cougs and now have my son play for them, well, I'm one lucky guy."

Scott also plans on resurrecting another family tradition. His parents attended every game—home and away—of his senior season and Scott plans on doing the same for his son. Only his goal is loftier. He plans on being in the stands for every game of Matt's collegiate career. So far, he's a perfect four for four.

"My folks were able to make every game," Scott recalled. "I remember it to this day, it was very important to me."

The senior Mullennix would like to take credit for influencing his son toward Pullman, but gives credit where it is due.

"From the time he first looked at that scrapbook, all he could talk about was playing football for the Cougars."

EXTRA POINTS
Three members of the WSU coaching staff--Ken Greene, Mike Levenseller, and George Yarno--were Cougar teammates of Scott.

Besides the Mullennix duo, there are two other legacies currently on the WSU roster. Walk-on punter Fritz Brayton is the son of Fritz Brayton Sr.,who played receiver at WSU in the early 1970s. And his grandfather is none other than Bobo Brayton, an All-American Cougar infielder before going on to become the school's legendary baseball coach.

Another Cougar walk-on, tight end/center Bryant Claudon, is the son of Ron Claudon, a talented center at WSU in the late-70s and early 80s whose career was cut short by a knee injury.

Additionally, another player with Cougar bloodlines plans to enroll in January and walk-on. Tight-end Tony Thompson is the offspring of Jack Thompson, the legendary "Throwin' Samoan" quarterback from the late 1970s.

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