Washington State has produced NFL players whose names have been featured on the marquee.
Kicker Jason Hanson is the NFL’s fourth all-time leading scorer. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe started a Super Bowl, and fullback Keith Lincoln was the MVP of an AFL championship game. Halfback Reuben Mayes was an NFL Rookie of the Year and defensive tackle Keith Millard the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
The Cougars also produced Hall-of-Famers Pat Flaherty, Turk Edwards and Mel Hein.
But Washington State has turned out its share of players who have quietly gone about their business outside of the spotlight as well – grinders who cover kicks on special teams. The Cougars have sent two of the best to the NFL in Eric Frampton and Steve Gleason.
Frampton played seven seasons with three NFL teams, making 138 career tackles. He had five seasons of 20-or-more special-teams tackles. Gleason spent seven seasons with the New Orleans Saints, collecting 98 special-teams tackles and blocking four punts.
In addition, wide receiver Mike Wilson made 17 tackles as a rookie with the San Francisco 49ers in 1981. He went on to win four Super Bowl rings with the 49ers, catching 159 passes as a backup throughout the decade to Pro Bowl receivers Dwight Clark, Jerry Rice and John Taylor. Hamza Abdullah also made his name on special teams as a rookie at Denver in 2005 with 11 tackles before becoming a starting safety for the Broncos.
Here is Washington State’s all-time NFL team:
QB—Drew Bledsoe, 4 Pro Bowls, 14 seasons, 44,611 passing yards, 251 TDs
HB—Reuben Mayes, 1986 NFL Rookie of the Year
FB—Keith Lincoln, 5 Pro Bowls, 1963 AFL title game MVP with 206 yards rushing
WR—Pat Flaherty, Hall of Fame
WR—Gail Cogdill, 3 Pro Bowls, 11 seasons, 356 catches, 34 touchdowns
TE—Pat Beach, 11 seasons, 163 catches, 14 touchdowns
T—Turk Edwards, Hall of Fame
T—George Yarno, 10 seasons, 73 starts at T-G-C
G—Robbie Tobeck, Pro Bowl, 13 seasons, 166 starts
G—Dick Farman, Pro Bowl, 5 seasons (1940s), 28 starts
C—Mel Hein, Hall of Fame
DE—Erik Howard, 2 Pro Bowls, 11 seasons, 94 starts, 2 Super Bowl rings
DE—Eric Williams, 10 seasons, 105 starts, 30 sacks, Super Bowl ring
DT—Keith Millard, 2 Pro Bowls, 1989 NFL Defensive Player of the Year
DT—Laurie Niemi, 5 seasons (1950s), 8 fumble recoveries
LB—LaVern “Torgy” Torgeson, 3 Pro Bowls, 7 seasons, 18 interceptions
LB—Mark Fields, 2 Pro Bowls, 9 seasons, 755 tackles, 35 sacks
LB—Tom Erlandson, Pro Bowl, 7 seasons, 12 sacks, 8 interceptions
CB—James Hasty, 2 Pro Bowls, 14 seasons, 201 starts, 45 interceptions
CB—Don Paul, 4 Pro Bowls, 9 seasons, 34 interceptions
S—Kenny Graham, 4 Pro Bowls, 7 seasons, 28 interceptions
S—Bernard Jackson, 8 seasons, 17 interceptions, 8 fumble recoveries
K—Jason Hanson, 2 Pro Bowls, NFL’s #4 all-time scorer (2,150 points)
KR—Steve Broussard, 175 kickoff returns, 23.2-yard average, TD
ST—Eric Frampton, 7 seasons, 138 special-teams tackles
LS--Cory Withrow, 9 seasons, 17 starts