PULLMAN – Tyrone Justin and Romeo Pellum not only bookend the Washington State defense, playing opposite each other at corner, but the two grew up with similar circumstances in their relationship with the University of Southern California.
Justin’s hometown, Culver City, is a few miles west of USC, down Interstate 10.
Pellum is from Norwalk, a few miles southeast of L.A. on Interstate 5.
Both have a football lineage.
Pellum’s uncle, Don, played for and now coaches at Oregon and another uncle, Forrest, played for Oregon State.
Justin’s dad, Tyrone, played at OSU and cousin Kerry played for the Beavers and Seattle Seahawks. Uncle Sidney played for the Rams when they were still playing in Los Angeles.
With all those connections, they developed differing views of USC while being raised in the Trojans’ backyard.
“Growing up, watching USC, they were always one of the top in the country, so yeah, I was a fan,” Justin said. “Being right there in Southern California and a Southern California team is No. 1 most of the time, it’s hard not to like them.”
Not to Pellum.
“I always hated them,” he said. “Them and UCLA. I was a Duck fan growing up.”
Not a surprise, considering Uncle Don has been in Eugene for more than 20 years.
Still, both Pellum and Justin had no choice to watch USC football games on television. The Trojans were always on.
“It was always my dream to play in the Pac-10 and guard those guys,” Pellum said of the USC receivers like Mike Williams and Keary Colbert.
“Watching these guys, I would always envision me covering them,” Justin said. “And just envision I could cover anyone on the field when I line up against them. That’s just how I think. That’s how I come into the game thinking.”
The Williams and Colberts and Dwayne Jarretts are gone to the next level, but Saturday Justin and Pellum will face a stiff enough challenge in Damian Williams, Patrick Turner and Ronald Johnson, who are fifth, ninth and 10th, respectively, in the Pac-10 in receiving yards per game.
“We’ve faced pretty good receivers before,” Pellum said. “Sure, they’re going to be fast, they’re going to be big, but if we work our technique, and do what our coaches teach us to do, we’re going to be fine.”
With the bye week coming up, many of the Cougars have plans.
They’ll practice Tuesday and Wednesday, then condition on Thursday. But after that they are free until the following Sunday, when they’ll start getting ready for Stanford.
With most of the weekend off, some players will be getting out of town. Guard Andrew Roxas and kicker Nico Grasu said they are both traveling home to Southern California. They are planning to meet up Friday night at Crespi High in Encino – Grasu’s alma mater – for the Celts’ game against rival St. Francis – Roxas’ high school.
Defensive end Andy Mattingly is headed to Spokane, at least for a while. He and father Sam are planning to go steelhead fishing.
The coaches will be on the recruiting trail, traveling all over the West Coast taking in as many high school and junior college football games as possible.
Head coach Paul Wulff spent Thursday before practice visiting recruits in Spokane and headed back there after practice.
Ferdinand’s, WSU’s on-campus ice cream shop, is giving Cougars fans a chance to ease their pain from an injury-riddled season, an old-fashioned way. All day today and until game time Saturday, walk into the shop, order a $2.50 “save our QB” sundae, name one of the Cougars’ offensive linemen and you’ll get a quarter back. … Speaking of quarterbacks, Wulff clarified the situation a bit Thursday. Kevin Lopina is healthy and will start. After that, the backup depends on the situation. Wulff hopes to get through the week without using freshman J.T. Levenseller, then evaluate his status through the bye week. But if anything happens to Lopina early in a close game, Levenseller would be used. If the reward isn’t there, the Cougars would go with redshirt freshman Dan Wagner, as they did at Oregon State. … Scout team quarterback – and tryout winner – Peter Roberts will suit up Saturday. He wears No. 13. … Guard Brian Danaher will start, but he’s still battling shoulder problems. He said it hurts the most when he punches through a defensive player. Wulff, who played the offensive line, understands. “As on offensive lineman, you’re always using your arms, you’re moving them up and down and you’re banging on them,” he said. “You tend to not be as physical as you need to be at the point of attack. It’s irritating as heck.”