Cougs hoping Martin becomes Maxwell's House

GRADY MAXWELL, THE road grader from Tacoma and he of the great feet, plans on an early arrival at Washington State. Early July, to be exact. The offensive line he'll be joining came of age this season under George Yarno, paving the way for The Ghost as the senior scatback shimmied his way to 1,900 yards. Count Maxwell among those who can't wait to study at the hands of Yarno and soak up the knowledge like a sponge and put it to use in Martin Stadium.

"That was one of the main reason I committed to Washington State -- the coaches," said Maxwell. "They're real cool outside of football but it's all business during the season. You've got to get your business taken care of, but also it can be fun."


Maxwell, the cousin of Cougar great Marcus Trufant, compares favorably to Yauger Williams, according to legendary Curtis coach Bob Lucey.

Long time followers of the prep scene will remember Williams was the state of Washington's prep Lineman of the Year as a senior in '92. A highly sought prospect, he played for Cal until a chronic knee injury ended what was shaping up as a very promising football career.

"Grady has great speed," says Lucey. "He's a great left tackle, outstanding both in run and pass blocking. He has great feet -- exceptionally quick feet."
Maxwell (6-3, 312) said his official visit to Washington State earlier this month further solidified in his mind he made the right choice. And he decided he didn't want to wait very long to get back to Pullman on a permanent basis.

"Me and Micah (Hannam) had a meeting with coach Yarno and he's a really deep guy," said Maxwell. "I'm going up there early, just so I can be around him and start working with some of the players. I'm probably going to go up there about the beginning of July so I can get to work out...just so I just don't go out there like a bird with no wings."

THE JUMP FROM high school to college can be an eye opener for anyone, particularly so for one of the more demanding positions in all of football -- offensive lineman. Before 2005, the Cougar running attack hadn't consistently met expectations the last few years. This past season, however, the running juggernaut that was Jerome Harrison and the offensive line blew the door off the hinges and everything started to click. Maxwell appears in as good of shape as any to make the adjustment.

"I'm ready to get to work, get in the scheme and start learning the plays because after I sign it's going to be all business," said Maxwell. "I think I'm prepared for that mentally but I need to get myself prepared for it physically and get in my playbook as soon as possible...I'm just real excited to go up there to start school and play football -- more than anything."

Maxwell was named first-team All-South Puget Sound League for the second straight year in 2005. He was also selected to The Seattle Times and The Tacoma News Tribune All-Area teams, and was named first team all state by the Seattle PI.

RETURNING THIS SEASON on the line for the Cougs will be three of five starters. Uber-talented left tackle Bobby Byrd, a starter since his redshirt freshman days, will be but a junior in 2006. Sean O'Connor, who has quietly become a force up front, returns at left guard. And Charles Harris, who went from solid backup to a dominating presence last year, returns at right tackle.

Most incoming offensive linemen are best served by a redshirt year -- Byrd's a pretty fine example. But with (RG) Norvell Holmes and (C) Nick Mihlhauser graduating, Maxwell's going in the way he should, with an eye towards earning playing time.

"I know Kenny Alfred is probably going to step in at center so I'm going to try and get in the best shape I possibly can, learn the plays as much as I can and probably try to go for that guard spot," said Maxwell.

AN ENGAGING PERSONALITY, its' not difficult to see Maxwell becoming one of the Cougar clubhouse leaders over the course of his career. Hosted by Alfred on his official trip, Maxwell made it a point to meet as many players as he could, from offensive linemen to receivers to quarterbacks and beyond.

"I already knew (Alfred) because we played each other at a football camp his senior year and my junior year -- he's a real great guy," said Maxwell. And I got to meet Byrd and Jacob McKinney. Dan Rowlands, he was real cool, they all were. And Norvell Holmes, he was really cool. I got to sit down and talk to him about football for a little bit and I hung out with Brandon Gibson, Arkelon (Hall), (Michael) Bumpus."

HIS SENIOR CAMPAIGN at Curtis High, Maxwell didn't allow a sack as the Vikings (8-3) advanced to the 4A state playoffs. Indeed, over his three years at Curtis, Maxwell allowed but one sack, that one coming in his sophomore season. Clips from '05 show he also spent plenty of time driving his man downfield, eventually going clear out of camera range.

Having played football for nine years, this season was the first time Maxwell had experienced a defensive scheme specifically designed with him in mind. Oftentimes, Maxwell said he'd have two defensive linemen to battle -- one coming high and one coming low towards his knees.

"Considering everyone knew about me coming in, I think I did pretty well," said Maxwell.

For his efforts, Maxwell's been named -- for the second straight year -- first-team All-SPSL. He was also selected to The Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune All-Area teams, and took home first team All-State honors from the Seattle PI.

Despite the accolades, the season wasn't as satisfying as he'd hoped. Maxwell had his eye on the state title.

"The team's always first," said Maxwell.

Grady Maxwell profile

Some of the more notable Curtis alumni who have suited up for the Crimson and Gray include: Torey Hunter, C.J. Davis, Virgil Williams, Singor Mobley, Deron Pointer and Mike Levenseller, who was a phenomenal defensive back and wide receiver. Research is ongoing, but Levenseller apparently still holds the SPSL season interception mark with 16 picks. Coach Levy's brother, Steve Levenseller, is an assistant coach at Curtis.

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