Hometown support

AS THE final seconds ticked down on the Cougars' Pac-10 opening victory over California, a cell phone rang in the stands of Memorial Stadium. It was Tim Ryhan calling Mike and Lisa Hurd. "They're back on track," said Ryhan, athletic director at Chris Hurd's alma mater, Deer Valley High in nearby Antioch.

Ryhan, while living and working in Golden Bear country, wasn't talking about Cal's spirited fight. His colors are now crimson.

On Saturday, it seemed, all eyes and ears in Antioch were focused on Strawberry Canyon in anticipation that Mike and Lisa's son, a local quarterbacking legend, might be called upon if the injuries to Jason Gesser's ribs and Matt Kegel's knee proved insurmountable.

As it turned out, the amazing Gesser took every one of WSU's 72 offensive snaps in the high-octane thriller, and subsequently was named USA Today's national player of the week.

No matter. The cheering section for the 6-2, 220-pound Hurd figures to be loud and large for years to come.

"There is a lot of pride in the kind of young man that Mike and Lisa raised, and it's exciting to see how well Washington State has been doing," Rhyan said.

He's referring to Hurd's work and study habits. The kid's a machine.

"I think Chris would be the first to say that his family taught him the importance of a strong work ethic and working within a system. Many of Chris's friends and supporters feel he has what it takes someday to flourish in that system. But like anything else, success comes down to the details, working hard in practice, doing your part to achieve team goals; these are the qualities that the Hurds believe in. These are the qualities that Deer Valley High believes in," Ryhan said.

Hurd played both sides of the ball under head coach Mike Paul, but really turned heads on offense during his three varsity seasons. As a sophomore, he threw for 1,700 yards and 14 TDs en-route to first team All-State honors. A year later, he tossed for more than 1,300 yards and 13 TDs in only eight games due to a knee injury.

Coming into his senior year, which -- given his frame and track record -- should have been one big recruiting circus, analysts and even some coaches played it cool because of questions surrounding his injured knee.

Fully recovered, he wound up throwing for 1,800 yards and an eye-popping 25 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. Widely praised as one of top prospects from a quarterback-rich crop on the West Coast, Hurd found himself entertaining offers from Ohio State, Arizona, ASU, UCLA and BYU. And one Washington insider told CF.C that the Dawgs make have been too quick to lock up Casey Paus that recruiting season instead of looking longer at Hurd.

Alas, Hurd chose Quarterback U.

"Stories like Chris are inspirational to the students here at Deer Valley for an assortment of reasons," Ryhan said. "First, it shows that a young person can work hard toward their goals and take their dreams to a great program like Washington State. It also shows that the work and dedication of the coaching staffs here are for a reason, not necessarily to try and prep a kid for a pro career, but to teach work, dedication and the concept of team and execution. I think that in itself is why we are proud of the road Chris is on. I think it is fair to say that he hasn't reached his plateau."

"We have great coaches here and they deserve credit and accolades for what they bring to the program, but I can't stress enough the importance that Mike and Lisa play on Chris. I think as he works to reach his full potential, both on the field and the classroom, their positive influence is to be credited."

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