Pellum rising, says Wulff

IT'S MOSTLY ESCAPED notice this year -- losing games and losing them by a wide margin can have the tendency to obscure most everything else. But cornerback Romeo Pellum is rising, and he's one to watch in looking forward. Back in fall camp, Paul Wulff had some candid comments for the true sophomore corner. But take a look at what Wulff says about Pellum now.

Wulff has this season shown he will comment candidly on his players. And it has caught some WSU fans, beleaguered by a 1-8 mark on the season, off guard. But Wulff is just as candid in his praise.

Back on Aug. 13, Paul Wulff sent some tough love the way of Romeo Pellum.

"Romeo's got talent, but he's got a lot of issues he's working on to be a guy we all can trust," said Wulff at the time. "If he develops his consistency as a person off the field first, then he'll ultimately help the football team."

It's clear with four games remaining that Pellum has, in Wulff's eyes, done exactly that. Indeed, with WSU entering the final stretch drive on the 2008 campaign, Wulff was positively effusive in his praise for Pellum's work ethic, attitude and perseverance.

"He's been our most consistent guy at the corner position," Wulff tells CF.C. "And he's a fun guy to coach on game day because he doesn't let the swing of the game really affect him. He's very confident. He's got a fairly short memory. On the field, he's very stable and plays with a certain level of maturity."

THE BETTER CORNERBACKS have short memories, and that unshakeable confidence in their ability. They have to, given the nature of the position.

The best cornerback in all of college football cannot cover an only average receiver for a limitless amount of time. Pick any great cornerback or defensive backfield in the college or pro ranks and you'll also find a defensive front seven that excels at getting pressure on the quarterback.

The two go hand in hand.

The Cougs have struggled monumentally on defense this year but the play of Pellum, freshman corner Tyrone Justin and junior safety Xavier Hicks has been better than many expected headed into the season -- it's been masked to a certain degree by opposing quarterbacks having all day to throw and teams being able against the Cougs to run, run and then run some more.

And Pellum and the defensive backs have made their share of mistakes, too.

There are going to be times that Pellum is also simply going to get beat -- there are some pretty good receivers out there. But close observation of his attitude, and film study, has revealed some good-sized promise for the future in the form of Pellum, said Wulff.

"He still makes some young mistakes," said Wulff. "But we are very, very encouraged by his ability to keep playing hard regardless of the score in the ball game."

MANY CORNERS HAVE a large personality, and Pellum certainly fits the bill there.

Partially blind in one eye, Pellum made a big show one sunny afternoon during spring ball in making sure the coaches noticed he had eye black under only one eye. And when someone like Brandon Gibson does beat him on a route in practice, Pellum has been known to jokingly tell the coaches it was because of the eye.

Those kinds of personalities are important to have on any team -- and probably even more important on a team that is losing a lot of games like the Cougs are this year.

But, said Wulff, don't let his goofball side of things fool you -- Pellum's competitive fires run deep and he hates, absolutely hates, to lose.

"He's got a certain level of toughness and competitiveness to him," said Wulff. "He's fun for our coaches to coach and to be around."

As for Pellum's vision, Wulff said it's a non-issue -- he can play either corner spot and that his condition doesn't impact his play.

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