Nov. 20, 2000
In 1997, a 163-pound freshman walked on to the WSU football team. Four years and eight pounds later that same player is a captain. Senior wide receiver Farwan Zubedi has come a long way.
After an initial redshirt season, it did not take Zubedi long to prove himself, earning a varsity letter in each of the three seasons to follow. Zubedi, born in Uganda, played in ten games as a sophomore for the Cougars and in every game last season, missing only one start.
In the 1999 season, Zubedi caught his first touchdown reception against Arizona, one of 29 receptions that season for 369 yards, fourth on the team. In the one game the 5-10 receiver didn't start, he gained his highest yardage of the season, four receptions for 79 yards at Stanford.
"Farwan just kind of showed up," wide receivers coach Mike Levenseller said. "We didn't know he was coming."
After wrapping up his high school career at Chaffey High in Ontario, Calif., as the football team's MVP and the basketball team's most valuable defensive player, Zubedi was not ready to quit sports.
Zubedi was not recruited as a scholarship player out of high school, his only looks came from Portland State who wanted him to walk on. Zubedi didn't want to walk on and not get a scholarship.
"I'd rather walk on somewhere big and try to earn one," said Zubedi, who began high school in North Vancouver, B.C., his hometown.
Zubedi picked WSU because it was close to Canada, although he didn't know anything about Washington State when he came here.
"I just wanted to come and play something, either basketball or football," Zubedi said.
Zubedi who also tried to walk on to Washington State's basketball team as a freshman felt he would have more opportunities as an athlete if he left Canada.
"You get a chance and athletics is so much more appreciated here," Zubedi said about playing in the states. "People look at it like `well okay if you play football then you worked for it' and you get rewarded at the end."
Zubedi started earning his rewards in the spring of his sophomore year, that's when he became a scholarship player. Then in the spring of his junior year, Zubedi's teammates voted him as one of the four captains for the 2000 season.
"Obviously everybody dreams of becoming captain in a D-I program or any program. I guess it's just through hard work," Zubedi said about his teammates choosing him as a leader. "People see that you're working hard and they respect you for it. I was so happy when I found out."
"He's a good leader," Levenseller said. "I know his senior year is not what he wanted it to be, but he's kept working and done a good job of helping the younger kids and some of the older ones."
Things haven't been easy this season. Zubedi missed the first week of fall camp after spilling his motorcycle the week before camp opened, suffering a bruised and lacerated knee. He returned to practice the second week and was working his way to the top of the depth chart when he was sidelined and hospitalized with a staff infection in his knee, missing the first four games.
The hospital was difficult for Zubedi, and the nurses who discovered him gone.
"I just left, I took a walk, you know a three-hour walk," Zubedi said about his disappearances from the hospital. "I couldn't stand it in there."
Coach Levenseller could not get mad at his senior wide receiver for leaving the hospital, as he said he had done the same thing in his playing days.
"I really couldn't discipline him too much on that," Levenseller said. "I've been there."
And the nurses?
"I guess they were nervous, they had a heart attack or something, but I didn't mean to cause a commotion," Zubedi said about going home. He remembered his room was a mess when he left.
But despite the commotion Zubedi caused during his days at the hospital, he also showed compassion, and the football coaches received a phone call commending him.
While Zubedi was hospitalized, there was a car accident on the Moscow-Pullman Highway involving some young kids and their mother. The kids were hurt pretty badly and the mother eventually passed away. Zubedi was there for the children, and his visits were noticed.
The football secretary, Shannon McGinnis, recalls a phone call from a friend of the family who wanted the school to know how great Zubedi had been with the kids and coach Levenseller remembers hearing from the doctors at the hospital as well.
But Zubedi couldn't stay forever, he had to get home to his pet snake, named Unique. Unique is a four-foot Red Tailed Boa who Zubedi says is getting bigger every day. Unique often makes appearances with Zubedi, although not everyone is too fond of Zubedi's slithering neckpiece.
He also had to get back to the football field. The fine arts major who wants to work in graphic and web design if football comes to an end after graduation, believes there is a reason for everything, even his shortened senior season.
"It's an unfortunate thing," Zubedi said about missing the start of the season. "But I believe everything happens for a reason. Hopefully there's going to be a bigger and better door that's going to open for me. That's all I hope for."
In his first game back, it looked like Zubedi was ready for bigger and better things, catching two passes, including one for a touchdown against Boise State.
That's just what he would like to do today, catch a touchdown pass. It's tradition.
"I just want to go off with a victory of course and score a touchdown, a couple at least," Zubedi said about today's game. "That's how I've ended every level I've been in. In Pop Warner, in my last game, I scored. In high school, my last game, I scored. So, in college, my last game, gotta score. Gotta go out with a win."