<
>

With no other options, Wulff removes QB Levenseller's redshirt

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Washington State coach Paul Wulff didn't make the decision to yank freshman quarterback J.T. Levenseller's redshirt lightly. If this were a thoughtless, off-the-cuff move, it wouldn't be easy to look across the table during staff meetings.

That's because Levenseller's dad is Mike Levenseller, the Cougars receivers coach, who played for Washington State and has been an assistant with the program for 17 years through three different administrations.

Wulff even admitted that Levenseller's professionalism made it hard to measure his thoughts as a father.

"[We talked about it] a little bit, but Mike does a great job of staying out of it -- he really wants everyone else to make the decision without his influence," Wulff said. "Sometimes I've got to force a dad question out of him.

"The kid really wants to play, so [Mike Levenseller] doesn't fight that at all."

Fact is, Wulff doesn't really have a choice.

With five games remaining, he's already lost two quarterbacks for the season. Kevin Lopina will start at Stanford on Saturday, but he's still nursing a back injury and is not 100 percent. And the Cardinal defense loves to blitz (see: 26 sacks) which ranks second in the Pac-10.

If Lopina goes down, the only other quarterback available would be walkon Dan Wagner, who's looked overwhelmed during previous action.

The plan is to play Levenseller no matter what at some point in the first half to get him some game experience, so if he's needed later he won't be so wide-eyed.

And knowing Washington State's luck with injuries this year, Levenseller will be needed: 16 of the Cougars 43 players to start this season have combined to miss 39 games.

If Lopina goes down and Levenseller is forced to start a future game, he would be the fourth Cougar quarterback to make his first career start this season.

That would have to be some kind of record.

Prior to this season, two WSU quarterbacks have made their first start in the same season six times, but never three and certainly never four.

The younger Levenseller (6-foot-1, 190) was born to be a Coug. "J.T." stands for Jack Thomas, and he was named for former WSU quarterback Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson. He also starred in baseball at Pullman High School.

Wulff said that Levenseller is a good athlete with a good arm but is "very green."

And he will doff his redshirt and make his debut at Stanford.

Said Wulff, "If we're going to do it, we're going to play him."