MANY HAPPY RETURNS: DE starter back for 08-09

WASHINGTON STATE's depth-challenged d-line just got one big healthy dose of experience. A seemingly departed fifth-year senior, who missed nearly two full years of playing time with injuries, has been granted a sixth year of eligibility. Despite the previous woes, the 6-6, 258-pound DE had his healthiest and most productive season to date in 2007, playing in all 12 games and starting eight.

Matt Mullennix, a fifth year senior last season, will be back with the Cougars for the 2008-09 campaign after receiving a sixth year from the NCAA, the SID at Washington State has confirmed to CF.C.

The Spangle, Wash. product suffered a knee injury prior to the 2006 season that was preceded by a 2004 injury to the opposite knee. He missed all of the '06 campaign, and was lost for the '04 season in Week Four. Last year, however, Mullennix saw no such major pitfalls and started 8-of-12 games.

"I am very excited to get another opportunity to return to the field for WSU," said Mullennix in a statement released by the school. "I have been very impressed with the new coaching staff and look forward to spending another year in a Cougar uniform."

Mullennix has already earned bachelors degrees in both management and operations and psychology, and will now pursue a third degree this fall.

In 2007, Mullennix started six games at the right defensive end spot, another two on the left side. He logged 33 tackles, with 2.5 for loss plus one sack.

Mullennix's return gives Paul Wulff's Cougs some much needed experience on the defensive line. Of the two deeps at defensive end, Mike Graise was the only one of the four with starting experience at the position, with starts against SDSU and Idaho last year before badly dislocating a finger.

Andy Mattingly in effect started most of last year for the Cougars, but as a linebacker in WSU's 3-4 defense. With the Cougs moving back to the 4-3 under Wulff, Mattingly has also moved to defensive end this season.

The other two d-ends are rising junior-to-be Kevin Kooyman, who never redshirted, and senior-to-be and former JC transfer Jesse Feagin.

Mullennix is also a three-time all-academic honoree. He was named Pac-10 All-Academic in both 2004, 2005 and 2007, and earned ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic District VIII honors last year.

Mullennix's return comes on the heels of some other good news, that holdover British Columbian Tyson Pencer has qualified and will join the Cougs next month. Click here for the story.

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