A GLIMPSE INTO the future of Cougar football will unfold right before our eyes today as Mike Leach…
Mayle finally heeded advice & Cougs win big
"When he turned out for football for the first time as a sophomore, you could tell he was talented," Stark recalled of Mayle's early prep days. "I kept telling him, ‘you don't know this yet, but you're a football player'."
It took Mayle another four years to realize his coach was right.
Mayle (pronounced May-lee) was a standout on the Inderkum High basketball team and made no secret the hardcourt was a his true love.
Still, he became a two-way starter for Stark, at outside linebacker, tight end and then halfback. He earned all-league honors in his 2008 senior season, rushing for 661 yards and catching 11 passes for 299 yards. He also led the team in sacks, with 12.
But with poor grades, and a smaller frame than he now has, there were no recruiters in either sport knocking down his door.
The next few years unfolded in unconventional fashion. He played basketball for a season at Shasta College in Redding, and then took time to focus on his studies and help his mom through a health battle. All the while, Stark and his assistant coaches kept in touch with Mayle, encouraging him to get back into football.
About a year ago he landed at nearby Sierra College, a JC powerhouse just north of Sacramento that's led by former Nevada head coach Jeff Tisdel.
"He went through their off-season workout program and then came out in the early summer running routes with our kids," Stark said.
The results were impressive.
When the final whistle blew on the 2012 season, the basketball player who had never before played wide receiver was a JC All-American with scholarship offers from WSU, Arizona State, West Virginia, Kentucky, Houston and Nevada, with LSU, Ohio State and others lurking. He caught 61 passes for 984 yards and 16 TDs.
Last week when letters of intent were signed, his name was raised early and often. Mike Leach and WSU recruiting coordinator Dave Emerick each singled him out as an instant impact guy, while analysts dubbed him the Mother of All Pick Ups.
"He just exploded at Sierra," says Stark. "Vince just made up his mind what he wanted to do. He started treating himself like a football player ... lifting weights – loving the weight room – and putting on 15 pounds of muscle. He also applied himself in the classroom, and started doing well. His problem in high school was that he just didn't do the work."
He'll have two to play two at WSU, though Leach suggested last week that an appeal to the NCAA could be in order to get him a third season for the year he spent caring for his mother.
So what to expect when Mayle arrives at WSU this summer?
"He's a great guy, a really nice kid who never gets in trouble," says Stark.
As for his work on the field, the coach gets straight to the point: "He's big enough, strong enough and fast enough, and he catches the ball well. He's also very physical when he has the football -- very hard to bring down -- and when he's blocking. He's a very physical blocker."
Any advice for Coach Leach?
Just this, says Stark: "Throw him the ball!"
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