As we enter the 2020s, let’s take a look back at a very fertile decade for Cougar football. The program won 61 games in the decade, mostly under coach Mike Leach, the most in WSU history. It’s certainly been great for us here at Cougcenter and for Cougar Nation in general.
To honor this “Golden Age” I put together my list of the top ten WSU players that defined t he 2010s. Let the disagreements begin!
5. Destiny Vaeao:
When Mike Leach took the Cougar job in 2012 his most important hire was a defensive line coach from Arizona. Joe Salavea opened up the America Samoa recruiting pipeline for WSU. Salavea’s recruiting enabled the Cougars to rebuild on both sides of the ball and build a physical identity. Vaeao was the first big get for Salavea as he chose WSU over Alabama. He anchored the defensive line before embarking on a career in pro football.
4. Gabe Marks:
One of the best Pac-12 players of the decade Marks was WSU’s best and most clutch player as the team rose to prominence. Picked off from a UCLA recruiting class by Jim Mastro, this would become a trend as the Cougars got some of their best players from school’s coaching changes. Marks was a true Coug who was Air Raid personified on and off the field. The 9God was an elite level offensive talent not seen since the days of Mike Price.
3. Peyton Pelluer:
The in-state product was the heart and soul of WSU’s incredible defensive run under Alex Grinch and Tracy Claeys. Pelluer comes from a Cougar family and spent 6 years in the Palouse turning down a transfer opportunity to Alabama as a senior. Pelluer showed that as much as Cougar football has changed under Mike Leach, there will be still be local throwbacks that will remind us of the days of yore.
2. Andre Dillard:
Another local kid (Sorry Puckett!) that was one of the Pac-12’s best linemen of the decade and a first round NFL draft pick. The epitome of the Leach philosophy of taking good athletes with a great frame and turning them into outstanding blockers. Also Dillard is a prime example of WSU becoming a program that pumps out NFL talent again.
1. Gardner Minshew:
Minshew may be the definitive player of WSU football history period with his swagger, recklessness and fun persona. Minshew showed up for one season and set the Cougar world on fire as we were all recovering from the tragic death of Tyler Hilinski. He helped bring Gameday to the Palouse and led WSU to the best season of the decade. He is now starring in the NFL as a rookie and has reminded people of the WSU “QBU” legacy.
Well there is my choices. Had to leave a lot of amazing players off. Who do you all think defined the 2010s?
WSU's O-line development over last 10 years truly head turning
IN LOOKING A THE WSU All-Decade football team published this week by Cougfan.com, a number of observations struck home
Cougs face daunting challenge in the post to open Pac-12 play
The new Cougar Den will feature beer, wine plus dining and concession options not available elsewhere in Beasley