Elisaras at peace with decision and WSU

Like the stout defensive lineman he was some 24 years ago, when he was a first-team All-Pac-10 nose guard on Washington State's 1981 Holiday Bowl team, Matt Elisara saw the gap and stepped into it.

No, he and his son, Cameron Elisara, were not in Pullman this past weekend attending a special event that brought former and current Cougar football players together, said Matt Elisara, refuting rumors that he and his son were seen at a WSU football scrimmage.

And, no, Cameron, a 6-3, 280-pound defensive tackle heading into his senior season at Spokane's Ferris High, has not reconsidered his commitment to Washington, the elder Elisara said Tuesday.

"Right now, he tells me he's a solid commitment to U-dub," he said. "I can't foresee anything that would change his mind. But you never know with teenagers."

Elisara, at the request of Paul Sorensen, a good friend and teammate on WSU's 1981 Holiday Bowl team, had planned to attend the Crimson W event, as well as to help another son, Travis, prepare for fraternity rush weekend on WSU's Greek Row. The visit never happened, and his son hasn't revisited his pledge to go purple.

His son's focus now is on his senior season, which begins with the Emerald City Classic in Seattle at Qwest Field with a game against Evergreen. Cameron's commitment to the Huskies in July allows that concentration, but it also stirred up some publicity that makes life tough for a Cougar parent with still-fresh memories of taking his son, as a toddler and later as a teen-ager, to Cougar games.

But he knows he's not alone.

James Hasty, a stellar Cougar defensive back in 1986-87, will watch his son, J R, don the Purple and Gold this fall. Meanwhile, Stafford Mays, a defensive tackle at the UW in the 1970s, will watch his son play for USC.

The path that fathers and sons walk may split, but the bond forged through the years is never broken. For the Elisaras, the love for WSU remains, but blood is thicker than Crimson.

"I wondered how James Hasty went through this last year. … I can sympathize with Taylor May's parents. What can you do? Well, there's nothing you can do but support them," Elisara said. "I told Paul (Sorensen), ‘Wait till your son grows up.' He's going to go through the same thing."

Elisara said that he urged Cameron last month to take "another day or two" to be sure about his commitment, but he also told his son that "whatever school he chooses, mom and dad are going to support him 100 percent."

A recent Seattle newspaper column incorrectly suggested the younger Elisara was bitter toward WSU for not offering a scholarship right away, Matt Elisara said.

"I don't think he's ever felt that way about the Cougs," he said. "He still has respect for them. He still likes the Cougars, but at the same time he's happy with his decision."

Elisara said he and his family recognize WSU must recruit according to its needs. WSU's depth at defensive tackle currently has two sophomores (Aaron Johnson and Ropati Pitoitua), a redshirt freshman (Matt Eichelberger) and a true freshman (Fevaea'i Ahmu).

"I think at this point, the Cougs are pretty solid and deep on the D-line," he said. "I suspect it's not a great need right now."

And his son may fit better in the UW's defensive scheme, which allows defensive tackles to do more free lancing, Elisara said.

"They kind of give the d-tackles the freedom to use their athleticism and quickness, basically attack the gap, find the ball," he said.

College recruiters frequently comment on Cameron's quick first step and strength. He said his son has run a 5-flat forty, benches 335 pounds, squats 500 and power cleans nearly 300 pounds.

"I know he's stronger than I was at his age," Elisara said.

The ankle injury that caused his son to miss several games last year is healed. Everything is ready to go, including a Cougar father who has already introduced purple to his wardrobe. Matt and his wife accompanied Cameron on his visit to the UW Aug. 6.

"I told Paul (Sorensen) I wore a purple shirt, but I'm a Cougar. That'll never be taken from me," he said.

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