EUGENE, Ore. – Logan Mayes has always been a Cougar.
When your father is Rueben, one of only two Washington State players in the college football Hall of Fame, of course you’re a Cougar. And when dad works at WSU and you’re growing up in Pullman, of course you’re a Cougar.
But Logan Mayes stayed a Cougar even when the family moved to Eugene – dad changed jobs, going to work for a medical center here – and his high school years were spent in the shadow of Autzen Stadium.
He was so much a Cougar that, when WSU traveled to Eugene to play the Ducks in 2009 – a 52-6 Oregon romp – Logan Mayes bailed out of the homecoming dance and went to the game.
“I kind of had a girl lined up to go but at the last minute I cancelled,” he said this week. “I felt bad.”
One wonders if the jilted partner will be in the University of Oregon stands Saturday – many of Mayes’ classmates at Marist High attend UO – when Mayes, a freshman defensive end used in pass-rush situations, takes the field wearing WSU’s crimson and gray, colors he’s always felt were his.
And he knew they were that early October day two years ago.
“I’ve always kind of envisioned myself as a Cougar,” he said. “By then, I was getting to the point where I knew, ‘I can get that big, I can get that fast, I can get out there and compete with these guys,’
“It’s always been a dream,” he added. “It seemed a little closer at that point, but it was still a dream. I had a lot of work to do.”
He did that over the next year and a half at Marist, ultimately being named the state’s 5A defensive player of the year and earning all-state honors on the offensive line as well. The Cougars came a calling and he answered, signing to attend his parent’s school last February.
The shadow his father cast – he’s WSU’s all-time leading rusher and was an All-American in 1984 and 1985 – in Pullman didn’t change his mind anymore than the one cast by Autzen.
Neither did the prospect of redshirting as a freshman. That was the plan until a couple weeks into the season when Mayes’ pass-rushing ability started to show. Though he is only around 230 pounds, he was moved from linebacker to defensive end and saw his first action vs. Colorado.
He got a sack. Since then he’s been used on a handful of plays each game and should see action today on the same field his dad set a then-NCAA record of 357 yards rushing in 1984 – a game Logan has heard about a few times.
“I definitely heard it quite a big growing up,” Logan said, laughing. “I heard it a lot more when we moved to Eugene. I heard it all the time.
“Whenever I got anything on the news, right following my clip they would play his clip, showing that game.”
For dad, who had an eight-year NFL career after leaving Washington State, today’s game is going to bring up a variety of sentiments.
“I’ll have a lot of mixed emotions,” Rueben said. “One will be hoping that he plays to his abilities, that he be disruptive and make a big play. Proud, because of all the hard work that has gotten him to this point. And anxious, because I don’t want him to get hurt.”
Logan just wants to play well.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “Oregon has been one of those teams (he wanted to play). Having gone to high school there, always having those fans in my ears and stuff, it will be good.”