J.T. soaks up advice from the first J.T.

WASHINGTON STATE WILL have a new QB under center in '08 and the leading candidate is senior Gary Rogers. With a new coaching staff, however, competition is expected to be spirited and one candidate quietly preparing himself for the challenge is J.T. Levenseller, who enrolls at WSU in January. He's recently been working under the tutelage of a Cougar legend, and to appreciable result.

J.T., son of longtime WSU assistant Mike Levenseller, spent the past season as a grayshirt, signing with the Cougs last February but delaying enrollment until January '08. The move allowed WSU to space out their quarterback stable and also gives the younger Levenseller the benefits of spring ball plus voluntary summer conditioning prior to his first Cougar fall camp.

He's made good use of the time.

The initials "J.T." in his name are in honor of his dad's close friend --- Jack Thompson --- who set a gaggle of NCAA passing records during his Cougar career. Mike Levenseller, a record-setting receiver for the Cougars in the 1970s, was the Throwin' Samoan's favorite target.

The younger Levenseller has been working closely with Thompson this season, and now offseason, on his throwing motion and fundamentals. Levenseller has a stronger arm than he showed at Pullman High but a glitch in his motion kept it hidden behind lock and key. That door has since been opened.

"I have a higher release and a more technically sound motion now," said Levenseller. "I'm in better shape and I've bettered my throwing motion. I have more on the ball now, and I've put on a little bit of weight."

Levenseller, who checks in at 6-1 and 190 pounds, would also seem a good fit for the kind of offense Paul Wulff and Todd Sturdy -- who offered Levenseller while at Eastern Washington -- are bringing to Washington State next season.

"Personally, I think I can bring more of a dual threat quarterback (style) to Washington State," said Levenseller. "I've been working on my speed, quickness and my throwing motion and I believe I can be that type of quarterback."

IT IS DIFFICULT to overstate the deep, embedded knowledge someone like a Levenseller has been able to soak up over the years, having spent countless hours studying and learning day in and day out from a father who is a high level college coach. The nuances and feel of untold numbers of details have been pondered, studied and game-tested time and time again.

There are also the intangibles to consider.

For all football players, confidence is huge -- if you know you're good, you are. For a quarterback, leadership skills are also a requisite. Other players look to the QB for guidance in good times and bad. Meanwhile, fans tend to zero in and focus most on that one position. It's a role Levenseller has seemingly spent a lifetime preparing for as the son of a college coach.

"I've always tried to be a leader on every team I've ever been on and I will be continue to do that at Washington State. I believe that's a big part of being a quarterback," said Levenseller.

THERE WAS A time after it was announced Bill Doba would not be returning to WSU, and with his father's future at Washington State unknown, when doubt crept in for Levenseller. Was WSU still the right choice for him? That time period turned out to be a brief one. Reached before the elder Levenseller was retained by Wulff, J.T. said he had made the decision to stay a Cougar.

"I had slight doubts but I'd already developed a whole bunch of relationships with my teammates. I think we have a good thing going here," he told CF.C just days before Mike was retained by Wulff for what will be Levy's 17th consecutive year on the Cougar sideline in '08.

Less than 24 hours after the official announcement had been made that the elder Levenseller was staying at Washington State, the son then offered perspective on what it will mean to be playing for the Cougs with his dad as a coach. His answer harkened back to something mentioned earlier -- the role that knowledge plays in successes gained on the gridiron.

"Not many kids get the opportunity to play for their dad, especially at the college level," said Levenseller. "To have him be around the scene and experiencing everything I am is also nice -- I can come home and if I have a question on a formation or defensive coverage, I can ask him. And he'll know the answer. It can only better me as a football player, that's how I look at it."

NOTABLE NOTE:
  • As a senior in 2006, Levenseller completed 74 of 150 passes for 1,283 yards with 14 TDs and 4 INTs. He also carried the ball 117 times for 712 yards with 13 rushing touchdowns. His junior campaign, he passed for 1,880 yards and 27 TDs as he led Pullman to a perfect 14-0 season and the '05 Class 2A state championship. He was 23-2 in his two years as the starting quarterback at Pullman, earning first-team all-league honors on offense both years and second-team all-league as a defensive back in 2006.

    J.T. Levenseller profile


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