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Linebacker Fa’avae Fa’avae no longer with Washington State football team

Washington State Cougars linebacker Fa'avae Fa'avae (58) reacts after he sacked Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (10) during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, October 20, 2018, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Fa’avae Fa’avae’s time as a member of the Washington State football team has come to an end with three games remaining in the regular season.

The redshirt sophomore linebacker has chosen to leave the Cougars, The Spokesman-Review confirmed with a school official Tuesday after initially reported Fa’avae had entered the NCAA transfer portal.

Fa’avae was an integral part of the defense last season, recording 2½ sacks and seven sacks on the year. The linebacker had a key sack on Oregon’s Justin Herbert to help the Cougars nail down an upset of the 12th-ranked Ducks.

WSU coach Mike Leach said he was unaware of the player’s reason for wanting to leave.

“No, I heard second-hand he was transferring,” Leach said.

Asked if the decision surprised him, Leach responded “Eh, medium.”

The Carson, California, native ran into some legal trouble in the offseason and was one of three WSU athletes involved in an April incident, when Fa’avae, former football player Christian Haangana and soccer player Makamae Gomera-Stevens were arrested on felony vandalism charges for stomping on and damaging multiple vehicles in the parking lot of the College Hill apartment complex in Pullman.

Haangana, an offensive lineman, did not cooperate and was eventually dismissed from the team after missing multiple court appearances. Fa’avae remained on the team and moved from inside linebacker to “Rush” linebacker, though it’s been tough for the Mater Dei High graduate to carve out playing time behing Willie Taylor III and Ron Stone.

Fa’avae has played in seven of WSU’s nine games and has four total tackles with one sack. It’s unlikely that Fa’avae would’ve seen a boost in playing time next season with Taylor III, a redshirt sophomore, and Stone, a redshirt freshman, both returning.