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Gesser returns to Washington State in off-field coaching spot

PULLMAN – Former Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser is returning to his alma mater this fall, joining the Cougars’ football staff in an off-the-field coaching position.

Gesser, who led WSU to back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2001 and 2002, has resigned his head coaching position at Eastside Catholic in Sammamish, Wash., and will join WSU’s staff on Aug. 1.

Though the Internet was recently rife with rumors Gesser would fill a graduate assistant’s role (and Eastside Catholic’s announcement Thursday of Gesser’s resignation, and the hiring of former Cougar Jeremy Thielbahr, stated such), his role will be working behind the scenes with the coaching staff and not the players.

“I’ll be helping out the offense in any way I can, helping Coach (offensive coordinator Todd) Sturdy any way I can,” Gesser said by phone Friday. “Film breakdown, practice breakdown, opponents breakdown, meetings. Whatever they need from me to make their jobs easier, I’m willing to do and eager to do.”

Former Cougars center Kenny Alfred will fill the offensive graduate assistant role in the upcoming season.

Legislation passed by the NCAA board of directors – awaiting final approval – would expand the graduate assistant staffs at FBS schools from two to four. However, the change would not go into effect until Aug. 1, 2012.

Gesser, the Pac-10’s co-offensive player of the year in 2002, hopes the change occurs because ultimately he wants to be on the field working with players.

“I want to be a coach, so, yeah, I want to be out there,” said Gesser, who began talking with coach Paul Wulff concerning the opportunity about a month ago. “But this is a stepping stone to that. It’s part of the process I need, to come over there and start developing.”

But he knows despite his WSU success – six years of professional football and five years of coaching in high school, two as a head coach – that in this spot he’ll be akin to just another freshman.

“It’s all part of growing,” Gesser said. “It’s like a star high school kid going to college. You get a Division I offer to go to college and shoot, now you’re on a team where everybody’s got a Division I offer and everybody’s legit.

“You’re sitting there saying, ‘OK, what’s my role right now?’ I have to learn, I have to pick up these little things first. I’ve got to learn from those five guys in front of me about how they’re doing it and how to be successful doing it.”