College football | Ex-Cougar Roof says Central has state's best program
For all the problems Andy Roof got himself into during his time at Washington State, the offensive lineman doesn't blame his former school...
ELLENSBURG — For all the problems Andy Roof got himself into during his time at Washington State, the offensive lineman doesn't blame his former school for kicking him out, the media for making him a focal point or the culture that has made Pullman an well-known party town.
Time and distance have given Roof enough of a buffer to realize the problem: himself.
"I made some mistakes. It's on me. It was my fault," said Roof, still wearing some of his old WSU gear on the practice field at Division II Central Washington. "It's sad that it went down the way it did. It gave me a chance for a new beginning."
With one season of college eligibility remaining, the one-time starter at Washington State is attempting to redeem his pride at Central, trying for one last season of football without the off-field drama.
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Roof is expected to start at left guard when the Wildcats open their season Saturday night at Mesa State in Grand Junction, Colo.
Central is rated 14th in the country, and Roof isn't shy about promoting the Wildcats.
"I think this program is the best program in Washington right now," he said. "I think if we played Eastern [Washington], we'd win. I think we'd kick ... WSU. ... I think UW, them and WSU are pretty comparable. I think we'd beat them, too. I really feel that way."
Roof's name was sullied by his actions at Washington State, a series of mistakes that included alcohol violations, suspensions from school and eventually a final dismissal from the Cougars' football program and university after an arrest on investigation of assault in spring 2008.
Roof played as a freshman and was a starter by his sophomore season. But issues with alcohol and a short temper made him familiar to Pullman police. He missed the 2007 season after being suspended for a DUI arrest to go along with two previous minor-in-possession violations.
In April 2008, Roof was arrested for investigation of assault, accused of head-butting a man at a party. The WSU student conduct board expelled Roof last August.
Roof insists such problems are behind him.
"I just don't engage in the same actions I did in Pullman. My attitude is different," he said. "I have to learn everything the hard way. Making mistakes like that, you can be told 100 times 'If you do this, these are the consequences,' but you don't really realize it until it happens, the magnitude of your actions.
"It was a series of things and I knew it was a series of things I shouldn't be doing, culminating in that one event. It kind of got blown out of proportion at the time, but it's still my fault."
Before Roof was welcomed at Central, Wildcats coach Blaine Bennett did his homework. His staff spoke with WSU coaches and the Pullman police.
"He's been here over a year and been excellent on and off the field," Bennett said of Roof. "He's one of those prime examples of those kids getting a second chance."
WSU's Atofau cited
Jamal Atofau, Washington State freshman safety from Bellevue High, was cited by Pullman police early Monday morning for being a minor exhibiting signs of alcohol consumption.
Police were called at 12:44 a.m. to what was described as an altercation involving about 10 people in a parking lot. A police spokesman said Tuesday there was no substantiation a fight occurred, but said Atofau was yelling and was cited.
Times staff reporter Bud Withers contributed to this report.
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