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Byline: Craig Smith
PULLMAN, Wash. _ The quarterback from Honolulu who showed up here five years ago without a jacket or winter shoes plays his last game on the Palouse on Saturday.
Jason Gesser arrived with surfer shorts, flip-flops and assorted shirts. He will leave Washington State with a bigger wardrobe and the reputation among admirers, including Coach Mike Price, as the most valuable player in the school's history.
The smiling body-surfer, who still listens to Hawaiian music, has been the pivotal figure in the giddy transformation of Cougars football from three years of post-Rose Bowl doldrums to the No. 3 ranking in the nation.
"Jason is the reason we've changed our program the last few years," said senior wide receiver Collin Henderson. "He's a winner and a leader.
"He's also tough as nails. He's been more banged up than any player I've seen. You almost have to kill him to keep him off the field."
Last year, Gesser suffered a fracture in his throwing hand during the Apple Cup. He didn't tell anyone about it until weeks after the Sun Bowl victory over Purdue.
This season, he suffered a dislocated rib when hit in the Game 4 victory over Montana State. He played brilliantly in pain the …