WSU loses return man Kaleb Fossum to Nevada. Fossum is best known for his punt return for a touchdown against Cal last year
Kaleb Fossum’s biggest moment as a Washington State Cougar came on Nov. 12 last year, when he returned a 75-yard punt for a touchdown in WSU’s win over Cal and earned Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
But the Cougars will have to find someone else to return punts next year because Fossum announced via his Twitter account on Monday that he will transfer to Nevada for the remainder of his career due to financial reasons.
Fossum, a sophomore from Lake Forest, Calif. has been a walk-on at WSU for two years. He talked his way onto the travel squad by telling special teams coach Eric Mele that he could hold for the kicker on special teams even though he’d never actually performed that duty.
In a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, Fossum said he realized over winter break that his family could no longer afford to help him with the out-of-state tuition at WSU. So the receiver talked over the situation with Mele and his position coach Dave Nichol, but it quickly became apparent that the Cougars could not guarantee him a scholarship for his junior season and beyond.
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Still, the coaching staff gave him their blessing, and Mele, especially, helped talk to his contacts in the coaching world to try to find Fossum a new home.
One of those people was Nevada offensive coordinator Matt Mumme, the son of Hal Mumme, Mike Leach’s friend, mentor and co-founder of the Air Raid offense. Fossum connected with Mumme via Twitter, and after reviewing his tape, the Wolfpack offered him a scholarship.
Fossum said the Wolfpack will run the Air Raid under Mumme.
“That’s what they liked about me,” Fossum said. “That I already knew the offense.”
The 5-foot-10 receiver picked Nevada over offers from New Hampshire and Old Dominion, and committed to the Wolfpack on Monday. He says he’s scheduled to take a visit to Reno in March. Because he’s an unrecruited walk-on at WSU, Fossum will be immediately eligible to play at Nevada, and will have three years to play two.
He’s a business major at WSU and hopes to get into the business school at Nevada when he enrolls in the summer. Fossum said he will not go through spring ball with the Cougars but will instead continue working out on his own until he joins the Wolfpack.
Fossum returned 17 punts for 155 yards last season and finished fourth in the Pac-12 with a 9.1 punt return average.
Deciding to leave Pullman was tough, Fossum said.
“It was a really bittersweet day for me, I have nothing but love for the guys here, and the coaching staff and everything,” Possum said. “I was really bummed when my parents said they couldn’t do it anymore. But after talking to coach Mele and coach Nichol they said they weren’t sure they would have money for me here, it was better for me to pull the trigger for sure and start a new chapter of my life.”
In his goodbye note on Twitter, Fossum thanked his teammates and coaches for their support, and extended special thanks to Mele “for seeing something in me and believing in me when the other schools I wanted to go to didn’t.”
“Coach Mele was ‘The Man,'” Fossum said. “He helped me through the whole process, and he’s the one who got me up here.”
Fossum will join a Nevada program in rebuilding mode under first-year head coach Jay Norvell — formerly an assistant at Arizona State. Fossum’s departure for Nevada also sets up an intriguing return, when the Wolfpack travels to Martin Stadium on Sept. 23 to play the Cougars.