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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

No longer overlooked

Cyrus Coen didn't receive any offers coming out of Pearl City, but the sophomore has turned into star linebacker at Washington State

By Billy Hull
The first thing to stand out from this year's All-Hawaii Grown team is the defense.
Seven of the 11 members chosen to the team still have a game to play as the bowl season kicks off next weekend.
All 11 ended the season as starters at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, with seven doing so at BCS schools.
But unlike Manti Te'o, the Heisman Trophy finalist from Notre Dame who was destined for greatness from the moment he arrived on the Punahou campus as a sophomore, some have come out of nowhere.
One of those guys is Washington State sophomore linebacker Cyrus Coen, a 2011 Pearl City graduate.
Coen had no scholarship offers coming out of high school. A broken foot cost him the final month of his senior season and he was left with few options.
"Probably not," Coen said when asked if he thought he'd play football in college. "One of my uncles used to go here and he called me and told me to give (walking on at WSU) a shot."
His "uncle" is Jack Thompson, known to many as the "Throwin' Samoan."
Thompson was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1979 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals after playing college ball at Washington State.
He convinced the now-previous coaching staff to give Coen a look as a walk-on and it took exactly one year before Coen earned a scholarship.
Coen responded with a tremendous season, finishing with 60 tackles. Twelve of them went for a loss. Coen also had three sacks and three interceptions as WSU's do-everything linebacker.
"You know what? I kind of surprised myself," Coen said. "I just thank the coaching staff for giving me the chance, and the one thing they always tell us is to work hard and do what you're supposed to do and I've been able to kind of stick to it and it's worked out."
Coen's first year as a full-time starter didn't go so well in terms of wins and losses, but it couldn't have ended any better.
Instead of finishing winless in the Pac-12, the Cougars pulled out a stunning overtime win in the Apple Cup against cross-state rival Washington.
"Oh man, it was one of the best experience's I've ever had," Coen said. "Ending on a good note … I'm excited for next season."
The win made a lot of the disappointments of coach Mike Leach's first season in Pullman fade away quickly.
Although the team isn't playing in a bowl game, Coen works out every morning with his teammates and again in the afternoon.
Next year's season opener is at Auburn on Aug. 31.
"If we can pick up where we left off, everything is uphill from there," Coen said. "We can't wait to get back out there. We're excited."
Eight of the 24 players selected to the All-Hawaii Grown team, including Coen, are freshmen and sophomores.
Coen edged out Eastern Michigan's Bryan Pali, a 2008 Kamehameha-Maui alumnus, for the final spot at linebacker.
Pali played in nine games for the Eagles and finished 41st in the country with an average of 9.22 tackles a game.
Team selected from Hawaii athletes at mainland colleges

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