WSU’s Gilbertson, Lappano chose own paths
PULLMAN – The bios read more like a road map than a résumé.
Logan, Utah. Moscow, Idaho. Laramie, Wyo. West Lafayette, Ind. Corvallis, Ore. Berkeley, Calif. Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Detroit, Cleveland.
Add all those cities up and they equal … Pullman?
At least it did for David Gilbertson and Kyle Lappano.
The places listed above are all spots Gilbertson and Lappano’s fathers – Keith Gilbertson and Tim Lappano – coached football, either in the professional or college ranks.
The elder Gilbertson is now in the front office with the Cleveland Browns, but he was a head coach at Idaho, Washington and California.
The elder Lappano, a Spokane native who attended Gonzaga Prep and the University of Idaho, has never been the head guy, but has assisted in nearly 10 different cities, a half-dozen of them for former Cougars coach Dennis Erickson and a couple with Gilbertson.
And now their sons end up at WSU, even though the fathers’ Inland Northwest sojourns ended long before either was born.
“Any player who comes on a visit here I’m sure would say the same thing,” said David Gilbertson, a redshirt sophomore quarterback who walked on at Washington State but earned a scholarship this season. “The people here, the fans, the (coaching) staff, the players, it is family. That’s an important thing for kids coming out of high school.”
It was for Kyle Lappano, a backup running back who walked on at WSU this season out of Eastlake High in Sammamish, Wash.
As the son of a college assistant, he’s moved seven times, never living in any city for more than four years. His college choice was a chance to put down roots for the first time.
“It’s great to have a place where I know I’m going to be, to grow into,” Lappano said. “Moving is part of a coach’s kid’s life. It teaches you a lot. I don’t regret it. I learned a lot from it.”
And you make lots of friends. He and David have known each other since the fathers worked together when the boys were young, then got reacquainted when both dads were in Seattle, Keith with the Seahawks, Tim with UW.
“We went to rival high schools, but we only live a little ways apart,” said Gilbertson, who attended Redmond High. “When he came for an unofficial visit, I met him in the locker room and showed him around a little bit, told him about the place. It’s good to have a guy like him here.”
Both had multiple scholarship offers. Both had experienced fathers to help sort their options. And both decided to walk on at WSU.
“(My dad) always said he wanted me to go to a place where I was going to have a great experience,” said Gilbertson, who added Keith encouraged him to make his own decision. “That was the No. 1 thing. I’m happy with my choice and he is too. He couldn’t be happier about this place and where it’s heading.”
Lappano, who grew up a UW fan and whose older brother, Taylor, walked on and played for the Huskies a couple of seasons, took input from Tim, but was also left alone to make the decision.
“For the most part he wanted it to be my decision,” said Kyle, who may redshirt this season. “Obviously, he’s coached here, he knows what a great place it is to be. I learned that myself.
“I felt it was the best opportunity for me.”
That both saw the opportunity in Pullman makes one guy smile.
“Both of them had scholarships offers and they turned them down,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said. “That speaks a lot. They trust what we’re doing and the type of program we’re running.
“I don’t know if you could get any more of a compliment coming from coaches that have been in the business.”