By Jason Puckett
Since Mike Leach took over the Washington State football program, a number of players are no longer with the team. Now, you noticed I didn't say that Leach kicked out 18 players, nor did you hear me say that 18 players left the program because they have issues with Leach and his coaching staff. To this day, no former player, other than Marquess Wilson has said publicly that they left the program because of Leach and the coaches.
What you will find with the 18 players that are no longer around are a combination of things: Drugs, violating team rules, grades, quit on their own, playing time issues and injuries.
It doesn't matter what program it is, player attrition is inevitable when a new staff takes over. However, the narrative from some has been that "18 players have left the WSU program because of Leach." That notion is absurd and factually incorrect and it's lazy on the part of some who work in the media.
When Paul Wulff took over the football program when Bill Doba was fired, Wulff had 13 players leave the program. Wulff noted at the time that when a new staff comes in, the culture will undoubtedly change and you must expect players to leave on their own and you must weed some of those players out. There really is no difference to what Wulff did back in 2008 to what Leach and his staff have done in 2012.
The list below are the 18 players that are no longer with the program. Some of the reasons for their departure are public, some of it was based on conversations I've had with sources in and around the Washington State program.
1- Sekope Kafusi : Starting LB, . Arrested for marijuana. Was in talks with Leach to come back during the spring, as Leach noted to us in a interview that myself and Ian did back in the spring , he did not meet requirements set forth by the staff.
2- C.J. Mizell : Starting LB. Arrested fourth degree assault and second degree criminal trespassing at a fraternity. Suspended under Wulff for violating team rules, also didn't practice hard according to former staff. In Apple Cup last year changed out of uniform at halftime into sweats because he wasn't playing. When Leach took over the program he was late for the start of classes last January which didn't sit well with the new coaches.
3 - Anthony Laurenzi : DT. 3rd degree theft for stealing headphones from Walmart. Was listed as starting defensive tackle. Started all 12 games last year. Defensive line depth is an issue.
4 - Blair Bomber : WR. Leaves for more playing time and decided to transfer to Eastern Washington. Didn't play in 2011 (ACL injury). Did not play this year, and according to conversations would have been hard to find playing time with the depth at the wide receiver position. Bomber has never publicly said anything disparaging about Leach or WSU.
5- Dan Spitz: RS Sr. OL. Started 7 games last year. Played this year in first two games. Has left the program due to personal reasons. Told it has nothing to do with the staff and it was a personal choice and he's dealing with a serious medical reason.
6 - Matt Simmons : Rs. So. Son of former WSU player Randal Simmons who lettered for the Cougars from 1976-1978 and who was killed in the line of duty, where he was a member of the Los Angeles Police Department SWAT team. He appeared in eight games last year, mainly on special teams.
7 - Marquess Wilson: Jr. Left the team citing unfair treatment from coaching staff including: physical, mental and verbal abuse.
8 - Tyrone Duckett: Rs. So. DB Appeared in 11 games last year mostly on special teams. Did not appear in a game this season. Did not appear in a game this season, or was he listed on the depth chart.
9 - Spencer Wasseem: Rs. So. DB Had medical redshirt in 2011 after suffering a knee injury. Had not appeared in a game and was not listed on the depth chart for any game this season.
10 - Lenard Williams : Sr. DE. Started six games last year, appeared in 10 games. Left because of playing time issues.
11- Jordan Pu'u Robinson : Rs. Jr. DT/LB Transferred to Hawaii, his hometown. Made two starts in 2011.
In a interview w/ CougFan.com "I decided that being back home in Hawaii with my family is what was most important during this time. This was NEVER a football related decision and I am going home with the intent to help my family." More: "I was told directly by the WSU coaches (this spring) that I was playing really well and was projected to be on the field a lot this next season. Regardless of any rumors you might have heard, I was never cut by WSU."
12 - Ian Knight : Rs. Jr. DE. Redshirted last year. No reason given on why he left.
13 - Aaron Dunn : TE. Left program and transferred to play basketball at Western Washington University. Dunn noted that his skills didn't fit Leach offensive system, transferred soon after he was hired.
14 - Louis Bland : LB . Had a number of knee issues. Missed 2010 and 2011 with knee problems. In the spring of 2011, he was arrested and charged with assault in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. Later that year he was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and possession of stolen property (it was a stop sign).
15 - Alex Reitnouer : Missed 2010 due to injury. Left the team due to medical reasons.
16 - Sklyar Stormo : DE. Rs. Jr. ('11) Appeared in 12 games. Gave up football after suffering a back injury while weightlifting in January, according to his mother who relayed that to Christian Caple of the Spokesman-Review.
17 - Max Gama : Injury related (hand). Decided to transfer closer to home. Was told that he was a player that was never going to see the field, and many were surprised that he was on scholarship.
18 - T.J. Poloai : DT. Dismissed from program for violation of team rules. Was told it was drug related.