PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — When Cody O'Connell was a senior he was literally the biggest man on campus at Wenatchee High School. There were few who could even claim to be at eye-level with the massive O'Connell, who was 6-foot-8 and more than 300 pounds at the time.
Except this one kid: A sophomore named Trey Adams, who eventually stepped into the Panthers' starting lineup when O'Connell went down with a major knee injury halfway through his senior season.
"They're the two biggest people probably to ever live here," their high school coach, Scott Devereaux, said. "Even when they were little they were bigger than all the other kids."
Five years later, O'Connell and Adams are still massive humans. O'Connell checks in at 6-foot-9 and 368 pounds, while Adams is a mere 6-foot-8 and 327 pounds. They reside on opposite sides of their home state, one clad in crimson and gray, the other in purple and gold. And when their respective teams open the college season this week, these two will be the anchors for the offensive lines, Adams with No. 8 Washington at Rutgers and O'Connell with No. 24 Washington State hosting Montana State.
"It's kind of weird. Something in the water over in Wenatchee made us big," Adams said.
But that's not where the connections end. Adams and O'Connell are childhood friends, college standouts and arguably two of the best players in the country at their respective positions. O'Connell was a preseason AP All-American at guard, while Adams, a left tackle, is regarded as an early-round pick if he chooses to leave Washington after his junior season.
Not bad for a couple of kids from a town of about 35,000 not known as a football powerhouse.
"We put out good talent, we just don't get noticed that much," O'Connell said.
Because of the style of offenses both teams play, success for Washington and Washington State is highly dependent on a capable offensive line. Washington wants to be balanced between run and pass while Washington State needs to give Luke Falk the time needed to operate the Air Raid offense.
The cogs to both of those units are the former high school teammates.
"I've always looked up to him and he's always helped me," Adams said.
Not only was Adams the only one who came close to matching O'Connell's size in high school, he was the only one who would regularly challenge his teammate. While O'Connell needed to have the aggression pulled out of him for fear of hurting others, Adams had no problem going at someone on the field.
"Trey would call Cody out when they would do one-on-one drills when Trey was a sophomore and he would always call out the best guy," Devereaux said. "He had no problem calling out Cody to go one-on-one. Nobody else would call him out."
O'Connell was late in developing at Washington State, not in size or strength, but because he was recovering from the knee injury that ended his senior season of high school early. It wasn't until his junior season — four years after his injury — that O'Connell became a full-time starter for the Cougars.
In that one season, O'Connell became one of the most dominant linemen in the country, being named a first-team AP All-American and a finalist for the Outland Trophy. He's such a massive presence even his quarterback has trouble seeing around him sometimes.
"We were playing Boise State and there was a curl route behind and I had no clue what was going on so I had to side step over (behind Cody). Turned out he was covered. Thank God I didn't throw it because I thought he was open," Falk said. "And, Boise had those blue jerseys you can't really see either. So, it was a combo of Cody's 6-foot-9 body and the blue jerseys. He is a monster."
Washington quarterback Jake Browning hasn't mentioned issues seeing around Adams, only appreciation for Adams protecting the QB's blind side. And maybe a little grief for Adams' freshman year team picture that included a mullet he's thankfully cut.
Adams has started 23 of 27 games since arriving on campus in Seattle and last year he was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection.
"Just the other day we were showing films of years past and this is what it is supposed to look like and what do you know, who is out there? It's Trey and Cody and their footwork is good and they're finishing blocks and they're running downfield," Devereaux said. "So we use them as examples quite a bit so kids can see what it's supposed to look like."