By Jason Krump
Each Cougar football practice during preseason camp ends with one word.
"We say family a lot," explained redshirt junior safety Mitchell Peterson. "It's a major theme for us this year."
Their fathers all were student-athletes at WSU.
Freshman quarterback Isaac Dotson's father, Michael, wrestled for the Cougars from 1983 to 1986.
The other four student-athletes fathers played on the gridiron. Peterson's dad, Mike, was a wide receiver for the Cougars in 1982, catching a touchdown pass during that season's legendary Apple Cup win.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Tana Pritchard's father, Dave, was center on the Cougars' 1981 Holiday Bowl team and, by the way, his uncle is legendary quarterback Jack Thompson.
"When my dad first got to WSU he was a running back and wore No. 33," said Pritchard. "That's why I wear No. 33 now."
Another Cougar legend, Rueben Mayes, is father to junior defensive lineman Logan.
"Pullman was always a great place to be at, not just the university, but the town itself," Logan said. "Cougar fans have great pride about their team. That was no different with me. I always have great pride in being a Cougar."
Freshman linebacker Peyton Pelluer's Cougar lineage runs the deepest. His father, Scott played linebacker for the Cougars from 1977 to 1980 while his grandfather, John, played end from 1953 to 1955. Pelluer's great grandfather, Carl Gustafson, played flanker from 1925 to 1927 and was given WSU's Fred Bohler Award for inspiration.
The five are aware of the unique bond they share.
"It's definitely a special thing that our dads played here and now we're all here," said Peyton Pelluer. "It's something I always keep in the back of my head and honor."
"It's really cool to make that connection and share where we're coming from and how we started as Cougs," said Isaac Dotson.
Dotson's Cougar connections extend far beyond his father. His parents met at WSU and had one sister graduate from WSU last year and another sister who is currently a sophomore.
"My whole life I planned on going to WSU," Dotson said. "This is where I was meant to be. It's a dream come true."
The same goes for Peterson, whose parents both attended WSU.
"Growing up it was all Cougars," Peterson said. "Our house was crimson and gray. I was born in it."
There are even shared connections within the group.
Scott Pelleur was linebacker for the Saints from 1980 to 1985. A year later, Rueben Mayes began his NFL career with the Saints.
Though their careers missed overlapping by a year, there is still that shared bond between Logan, Peyton, and their dads.
"My Dad actually rented Peyton's Dad condo in New Orleans because he was leaving right when my Dad was going down there," explained Logan. "That's a unique connection and my parents are still really good friends."
As the group shares the connection of their dads competing in WSU Athletics,they also share the bond of the legacy left behind.
"He talked about the 1981 Holiday Bowl and how much fun it was," Tana Pritchard said of his father's memories of WSU. "If it was that much fun back them just imagine what it would be like today?
"I use him as motivation, of course," added Pritchard. "My dad is my hero. I look up to him every day."
"Probably the coolest experience was being able to go to the Rose Bowl in 2003," explained Logan. "We got to fly over with the team and stay in the same hotel, it was the Beverly Wilshire.
"I was only in the fifth grade and they had this whole room with all the snacks you could ever want and all these arcade games," Logan added. "I was just in heaven. I was thinking when I grow up and I'm a Cougar we got to get back here. That's something I always remember. That's always a motivator."
"As a fourth generation Cougar I got a lot to play for," said Pelluer, who is named after Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, the son of Archie Manning, who was a teammate with Scott Pelluer at New Orleans.
"That's why I chose WSU because we're on the up. I'm going to do as much as I can to honor the past and build the future."