Chase Bradshaw and Dustyn Coughlin are an imposing pair on the offensive line.
The Hermiston duo will continue to work together after they signed to play football at Western Oregon University.
Bradshaw and Coughlin signed their official letters of intent last week, but had their school signing Feb. 12 for family and friends.
“They are going to a great school,” Hermiston football coach David Faaeteete said. “They will fit in. Western has a great group of kids. It will be fun to watch them compete against guys their size.”
The Hermiston players are part of a recruiting class that WOU coach Arne Ferguson called “the most complete class ever recruited at WOU” in a school news release.
“Once again we were able to keep a lot of Oregon local players home, but also added some great athletes from surrounding areas that will be able to make an immediate impact,” Ferguson said. “When you look at the overall scope of all the recruits that we were able to bring in, this is a great class.”
The 6-foot-3, 275-pound Bradshaw, listed as a two-star recruit by 24/7 Sports, was a Mid-Columbia Conference first-team selection on the offensive line the past two years.
While Bradshaw talked to a handful of schools, he said he felt most comfortable at WOU.
“I feel I have a really good connection with the coaches,” Bradshaw said. “We have a lot of the same goals. They were the first to invite me down. It’s somewhere I want to be, and a football team I want to be a part of.”
Bradshaw, who will receive a substantial scholarship, credited his coaches and playing in the MCC in preparing him for the next level.
“I don’t think I would have this opportunity if I didn’t have the coaches to get me ready,” he said. “From the football coaches to the weight training. The MCC is close competition to the college level. Better than in Oregon.”
Coughlin agreed with his teammate.
“My sophomore year, some of the (Oregon) teams we played didn’t have the talent that guys from Chiawana or Pasco do,” Coughlin said. “You are playing against good dudes with unreal talent. I would not have been prepared for college if we would have stayed in Oregon.”
While it has been a dream of his to play college football, Bradshaw said he isn’t sure whether he will redshirt or play this fall.
“I will go into camp and compete for a spot,” he said. “If I feel I’m not ready physically, I will redshirt.”
Coughlin (6-4, 285), who is preparing for this weekend’s regional wrestling tournament, said it was good to get the signing out of the way.
“It’s a big sigh of relief, knowing I gave it my all and I get to play the game I love,” he said. “A lot of kids don’t get this opportunity. I will play my heart out.”
Coughlin and Bradshaw played a part in helping the Bulldogs average 200 yards passing and 80 yards rushing per game.
“I owe that guy (Faaeteete) everything,” said Coughlin, who also was courted by several teams. “He’s here early every morning for weights. He has a family, but he does this for us because he loves the sport. He has taught us to enjoy life and be respectful.”
Coughlin, in his second year of wrestling, said the sport has helped him in football.
“It has helped with my agility, my handwork and aggressiveness,” Coughlin said. “You have to fight for every last second. Coach (Kyle) Larson motivates me.”
Both players are excited to continue playing together. They spent the summer attending showcases and camps together, and they joined some of the best players in the nation Jan. 20 at the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Both saw significant time on the offensive line for the Grey team (West), which won 37-30 in overtime.
“I like the fact I get to play with my friend,” Coughlin said.
“We know going into college that there will be competition for spots. There will be big dudes there — bigger than us — but Hermiston has prepared us.”