WSU QB Tuel ends quest for fifth season

Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel is ending his quest for a fifth season of eligibility and will enter the NFL draft this spring, Bud Withers of the Seattle Times reported.

Tuel was trying to get an extra year after an injury-plagued 2011 season, when he broke his collarbone early in game one and was quickly shelved after he tried to come back at midseason. The abortive comeback is why the NCAA required an appeal.

From the Times:

Tuel said continued questions by the NCAA appeared to make the fifth year hinge on whether he felt he had been "mistreated" by the previous staff, or had been forced back into action too early.

"That's basically what they were wanting," he said. "I don't feel comfortable saying I was mistreated. I was never mistreated by them. It's (his decision) a combination of that, that how long this has been drug out. If it goes two, three more weeks and they say no, I'm kind of screwed."

That fits in perfectly with who Tuel is: A standup guy.

It's too bad, but this is typical of the NCAA, which apparently only seeks out interpretive leeway within its rules when it is sanctioning USC.

Tuel is a good quarterback who went through a lot. Few quarterbacks have suffered the pounding he took over the past few seasons, and those who did certainly didn't put up equivalent numbers. Tuel never whined and never blamed his teammates. He stood up for former coach Paul Wulff, and didn't complain when coach Mike Leach benched him this season. In fact, he was frequently an effective spokesman for the hard-nosed changes Leach was adopting.

In the end, however, this might be good for Washington State. The QB carousel between Tuel and Connor Halliday this past season didn't feel very constructive.

With Tuel gone, Halliday, a rising junior, will get most of the spring reps with the first-team, and that means more time to learn the nuances of Leach's offense. Recall that Halliday missed last year's spring practices due to a prolonged recovery from a lacerated liver, so he missed substantial time under Leach's tutelage. If Tuel were still there, those two would have split reps and would have been engaged in another QB competition that might have become a distraction.

Coaches say competition is always good. It is. But Halliday might benefit more from the extra work, as well as having his teammates see him as The Man. That will help him grow as a leader.

Of course, Halliday also may need to be wary of redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca, who could play his way into the picture. Leach has previously lauded his accuracy, which was something that both Tuel and Halliday lacked at times this season.