Future Coug already making headlines

WSU FOOTBALL COACH Paul Wulff told a gathering of the faithful Friday night in Seattle that Louis Bland, a strong safety in the Cougars' incoming class of recruits, is a unique combination of athleticism, brains and leadership skills. "You'll know who he is," Wulff assured. Perhaps sooner than later, it turns out. Bland's name was found all over the California papers Sunday morning.

The Pride of Central Catholic High in Modesto, Bland on Saturday captured his third state championship in wrestling.

The 6-0, 189 pounder -- the Modesto Bee's Player of the Year in football for both 2006 and 2007-- took all of 1 minute, 47 seconds to pin his opponent for the title at the CIF State Championships in Bakersfield.

"It's all over, I can't believe it," Bland told the Modest Bee. "I wanted to finish it out with something good. We needed it for the team, and I wanted it for my family, friends and myself, too."

Bland also won state titles as freshman (the first in state history at a weight higher than 103 pounds) and as a sophomore. He was the runner up last year.

"It's revenge because I didn't win last year, but it isn't revenge," Bland told the Bee. "I just wanted to close out my wrestling career with a state title."

Bland won't be the only Cougar with sterling wresling credentials in his bio sheet. Linebacker Marshal Pirtz, offensive lineman Stephen Ayers and defensive end Kevin Kooeyman each won two state titles in their prep days.

A TWO-WAY STANDOUT IN football, Bland posted 63 tackles in 2007 and rushed for 1,763 yards and scored 32 touchdowns. He holds the career touchdown mark for his Sac-Joaquin Section with 102. He was named State Junior Athlete of the Year in 2006 after his exploits in wrestling combined with a football season that read this way: 1,876 yards rushing, 29 touchdowns, 233 punt return yards, 74 tackles and two INTs.

In addition to his work in athletics, Bland is a two-time class president and outstanding student, Wulff said Friday at the annual "Night with Cougar Football" in Seattle. Besides WSU, Bland had offers from Montana, Cal Poly and Sacramento State. Wulff also noted that the Cal Bears were coming on strong when the Cougars entered the picture.

"He's going to be really good for us," Wulff said matter-of-factly.

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