22 • October 2012
Sykes’ success no surprise to father Influence of former all-Pac 10 lineman helps CV standout By Ryan Collingwood Current Contributor
Grayson Sykes has never had to seek out sage football wisdom. Seek would imply a concerted effort. When the 6-foot, 175-pound Central Valley star ever needs guidance beyond his own light, though, a call to Los Angeles follows. His father, former Washington State University lineman Greg Skyes, fields those calls. In those instances, the two discuss the week's opposition, the recruiting trail and life's generalities. The 2000-mile separation isn't far enough to hinder their bond. "He's always been there," said Sykes, an all-Greater Spokane League selection in 2011. "He's been pretty influential and has always helped me strive to do the best I can." Sykes, the Bears’ leading rusher who also splits time at outside linebacker, is part of a diminutive group of seniors that returned from CV's run to the 4A quarterfinals last fall. Naturally, leadership duties were bestowed upon the threeyear letterman, whose carries have increased substantially each season. That volume has especially ascended in his senior campaign. The 32 carries in the Bears' first three games is a little more than half of what he totaled all of last year. None of this surprises his father. If anything, the ex-Cougar — an all Pac-10 selection during a career that stretched from 1977-1981 — figured the mass carries would have come sooner. "In junior high, he was a big kid running all over the place," said the elder Sykes, who also had a short stint with the San Diego Chargers. "By the time he got to (CV), I think he was very
“He’s a (NCAA Division I) caliber player. And I’m being as objective as possible here. He’s got the athleticism, the speed and size. He’s better than a few of the guys I played with. On top of that, he’s a great person. I don’t think he’s said a bad thing about anyone.” — Greg Sykes prepared. He runs very hard." Starting off in the trenches was a key component in the yard-churner's progression. Before Sykes' parents separated eight years ago — his mother Rebecca is remarried and lives Liberty Lake — the family lived across the street from CVHS. Sykes, the oldest of the two brothers at the time, had seemingly inherited his father's impressive measurables. Greg was a 6-foot-7, 290-pound figure, and Grayson, bigger than most of his peers in grade school, looked as if he, too, had a fruitful future in the trenches. Turns out Grayson was fleet of foot, too, so his time up front was cut by the time he reached seventh grade. His growth rate decreased a bit as well, so it worked out. "(Being on the line) really helped him, I think," said Greg Sykes, who's made it up to a grip of his son's games. "It taught him toughness and how to use his hands." It's his legs, however, that have Central Valley aiming for another postseason. While Sykes has been clocked as low as 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, he isn't beating the GSL defenses with his speed. Not initially, anyway. When his number is called, he'll take a short handoff between the tackles before bursting to the outside, a feature that makes him attractive to a slew of college coaches. "I just open my stride when I hit the outside," said Sykes, whose sophomore brother, Max,
Current photo by Ryan Collingwood
All-GSL selection Grayson Sykes is a leader for the Central Valley Bears. is getting reps on varsity on special teams. "That's when I get moving," Offseason track and field didn't hurt Sykes' speed, either. His personal best in the 400-meter was a better-than-average 51.7. "He's a (NCAA Division I) caliber player," his father said. "And I'm being as objective as possible here. He's got the athleticism, the speed and size. He's better than a few of the guys I played with. On top of that, he's a great person. I don't think he's said a bad thing about anyone. Just a very humble team player. I'm very proud of him." Sykes has an upcoming recruiting trip scheduled at FCS power Montana this month. The Grizzlies are among a few schools interested in Sykes' services, but he's yet to receive a scholarship offer. "I'd like to play somewhere warmer," Grayson said. "But, obviously, I'm used to the cold so I can deal with that, too."
photo by bob johnson/spokane sports shots
Grayson Sykes looks for open daylight around the end while taking a carry for the Central Valley Bears during a 2011 game. Sykes, now a senior, is hearing from college football programs interested in his talents.