Civil War loyalty a hot topic

CORVALLIS — Civil War week is a time for traditions, decorating the house in black and orange (or green and yellow) and, depending on who you're related to, family feuds.

There's no doubt where the loyalties of the Oregon State players lie this week, but for a few of their family members, it's a little more complicated.

It's hard, for example, for OSU receiver Markus Wheaton to talk about the Civil War without entertaining questions about his cousin Kenny Wheaton. Markus Wheaton is the Beavers' second leading receiver, a senior who averages 98.6 yards per game. Kenny Wheaton is his 37-year-old cousin, one of the most beloved players in Oregon football history. And so because of that, Markus Wheaton grew up ... a Duck fan.

"I'm not sick of answering questions about Kenny yet," Markus laughed this week. "I actually lived in Dallas until I was 9, and Kenny played for the Cowboys so I was a Cowboys fan and a Duck fan. But when I came to Oregon State, my family was behind me 100 percent."

Markus and Kenny talk regularly, with the elder Wheaton doling out advice after each game. And while Kenny might be Markus' biggest supporter, Markus says Kenny probably won't be wearing his jersey this weekend.

"He might wear a Wheaton jersey, but it would probably be an Oregon Wheaton jersey," Markus said.

In the Jenkins family, they'll be wearing Oregon colors, too. Well, half of them.

Oregon State senior running back Jordan Jenkins, bleeds orange and black. Same goes for his older brothers Andy (former OSU baseball player, current OSU baseball assistant coach) and Riley (former OSU running back). But it's a different story for his sister Sari-Jane, who played softball, and is now a grad assistant, at Oregon.

"It's funny how it's changed over the years," Jenkins said. "When we were growing up, we were into the Ducks, but then some of us have gone to Oregon State, so we became Beavers. Personally, I couldn't care less for the Ducks, and I know Andy and Riley can't stand them.

"But Sari ... I think deep down in her heart she wants me to do well, but she wouldn't mind seeing the Ducks win Saturday."

Multiple times, Jenkins says he has given Oregon State gear to his sister before Civil Wars, only to hear her say, "Oh, you know, well, I think I have to show recruits around so I probably shouldn't wear this."

"She might sneak an OSU shirt under an Oregon sweatshirt, but I don't know," Jenkins laughed.

As for trash talk, Jenkins says there's not too much exchanged between family members. But it's a different story in the Singler households.

Oregon State junior receiver Mitch Singler, a former South Medford High standout, is from a family full of Beaver fans. But then there's that cousin of his who lives in Eugene ...

"E.J. kind of lets me be during the week because he respects the preparation, he get that we're getting ready right now," Mitch said of E.J. Singler, who plays basketball at Oregon. "But right before the game, I'm sure he'll shoot me a little text that says something that's more than, 'Hey, good luck, man.'"

E.J.'s dad, Bill, was Oregon State's quarterback from 1979-82. Though Mitch spent much of his childhood moving around the country — his dad was a college football coach whose stops included Stanford, Rutgers and Oregon State — he has understood the importance of the Civil War for a long time.

"I didn't really get the whole Civil War thing until I was in middle school," Mitch said. "But now, playing in, it's so much fun. It's the game you grow up watching, the one you want to be in.

"Obviously you want to beat every opponent, but there's something special about this one."

Everyone else with Oregon State — or Oregon — ties would probably agree.

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