PULLMAN – Cooper Pelluer will be in the Martin Stadium stands on Saturday supporting his little brother, Peyton, to a point.
Although his brother, a redshirt freshman, will be the starting middle linebacker for Washington State, Cooper Pelluer will be dressed from head to toe in the purple gear of rival Washington.
“I’m trying to get his face on a pin or something,” Cooper Pelluer, who played at UW from 2010-12, said.
There probably isn’t another family with quite as much invested in the Apple Cup rivalry as the Pelluers. Their involvement goes back to 1925 when Carl Gustafson, Cooper and Peyton’s great grandfather, played flanker for the Cougars for three seasons and was given WSU’s Fred Bohler Award for inspiration.
Their grandfather, John, played end for WSU in the 1950’s and their dad, Scott, started at linebacker for the Cougars in the late-70’s before playing for five seasons in the NFL.
But Scott later coached at UW for four years and his brother, Steve, was a starting quarterback for the Huskies. So Cooper and Peyton grew up wearing the purple and gold.
“It’s funny. Basically when I committed here I had more purple in my wardrobe than I did crimson,” Peyton Pelluer said. “But I’m blessed to be here and thankful to be here and I’m in the right place. But I basically grew up a Husky.”
Peyton Pelluer will be the latest member of his family to take the field for one side or the other and while he has yet to play in his first Apple Cup, he has already added his own chapter to the tension between the schools.
Even though his father was a coach, he grew up a fan of UW and played not far from Seattle at Skyline High, the Huskies never offered a scholarship to Peyton Pelluer, choosing instead to accept an early commitment from Bellevue High’s Sean Constantine. Pelleur admits that adds a little heat to the rivalry for him.
Pelluer has settled in quickly at WSU, however, redshirting last year and playing sparingly this season until a breakout game against Stanford in which he made eight tackles and hurried quarterback Kevin Hogan into an incomplete pass.
He has started all four games since, beating out Darryl Monroe for the position at which he had made 32 consecutive starts for the Cougars.
“Peyton just has a great deal of focus and a great deal of effort out there,” coach Mike Leach said. “I think it’s very meaningful to him to play and I think that helps him.”
Leach also said that coming from a long line of Pac-12 football players has primed Peyton Pelluer for success.
“I think that his expectation that he could be successful probably was enhanced by that and I think that sometimes there’s a sense that you measure up to that type of thing,” he said.
Tonight the family will get together at a relatively neutral site – Lewiston – for a Thanksgiving meal and on Saturday the lines of demarcation will be drawn as the Pelluers adorn either crimson or purple garb.
Having played at one school and coached at another, and with sons that played on each side of the rivalry, Scott Pelluer could reasonably support both schools.
But he won’t.
“He’ll be all decked out in Coug stuff,” Cooper Pelluer said. “He has more Coug blood in him than Husky blood.”
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