Aug. 22, 2012
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Drew Schaefer is old - relatively speaking on these young-pup Huskies, that is.
How old? Set-in-his-ways, you-kids-get-off-my-lawn old.
"Man, Drew's stubborn," said wide receiver and fellow redshirt senior Cody Bruns, Schaefer's roommate for all five of their years, including their recruiting visit at UW. "Very stubborn.
"It's just funny to mess with Drew. He's so set in his ways. Like, you can't sit in his chair at home. Noooo, don't sit in his favorite chair."
The only senior on Washington's offensive line and a 2011 Pac-12's second-team all-academic selection reads newspapers - yes, a college student that still reads a newspaper! - while at home in the apartment he shares with Bruns along Sand Point Way a mile or so north of Husky Stadium. He's said to be a homebody who likes to also read books. He reads most comfortably in that chair, a players' gift from their Alamo Bowl appearance in December.
That isn't the only item of Schaefer's best left alone.
"During training camp, he wears the same shirt under his shoulder pads - every day. It's his high-school basketball jersey or something," said safety Justin Glenn, another of UW's five redshirt freshman who until recently lived with Schaefer and Bruns. "No, he hasn't washed it all camp.
"(Monday) night after practice Michael Hartvigson took it from his locker and wore it to dinner. It was pretty funny. We were all laughing.
"Drew wasn't so much."
Even if age doesn't always have its privileges off the field among these teasing teammates, Schaefer's experience is a boon to the Huskies' offense this season. He is by two years in the program the most veteran member of the offensive line that is working sophomores Micah Hatchie, Ben Riva and James Atoe in with returning starters Colin Tanigawa (another sophomore) and junior Erik Kohler.
Schaefer is one of five fifth-year seniors on this season's roster, along with Bruns, Glenn, Jonathan Amosa, and Adam Long. The understanding he shares in the line's protection calls and pre-snap audibles with returning quarterback Keith Price may help nurture the rest of the line along early this season -- and keep Price in one piece.
Schaefer walked in graduation ceremonies in June with a degree in communications. He is thinking of perhaps getting in sports public relations working with professional athletes and managing their images when his playing days end. He is also considering a career as a college football coach.
He's seen a few of those in his time as a Husky.
Schaefer was close with the staff of Sarkisian's predecessor. For one, he loved his official visit hosted by the former staff in 2007, when he met lifelong friends in Bruns and Glenn. Second, he was teammates at Eastlake High School with former Huskies defensive back Taylor Lappano, son of Tim Lappano, former offensive coordinator at Washington. The Lappanos and the Schaefers -- including Drew's parents Mary, who's been a stay-at-home mom to three kids, and Andy, who works on the business side at Microsoft -- were neighborhood pals in the Seattle suburb of Sammamish.
"I knew I wanted to stay home, play in my home state, and play somewhere my parents could come see me play, and my friends and family could see me play," Schaefer said. "I knew the program was coming down, and I took a lot of pride in setting the goal to turn it back around - to where it is."
Mission accomplished, on both counts.
Andy and Mary Schaefer have never missed a Huskies home game in Drew's three seasons so far playing at UW. Their son estimates they've made 80 percent of his road games, too.
Drew is the youngest of three children, with sisters Krista, 26, and Kari, 30. For UW's 2010 season opener at Brigham Young, Kari and her husband drove 23 hours straight through a Friday night and Saturday morning from their home in Houston to Provo, Utah, to see her not-so-little brother play center in front of Jake Locker
"They made it two hours before kickoff for that game," Schaefer said, proudly.
His sister and brother-in-law also drove to Nebraska last season and will be at LSU Sept. 8 when the Huskies challenge the Bengal Tigers.
"Yeah, they are really supportive of me," he said of his entire family.
As for turning the Huskies program back around, Schaefer credits Sarkisian -- and the teammates that were willing and eager to follow their new, first-time coach beginning with his arrival in January 2009 immediately after Schaefer's first, redshirt year at UW.
"We were young," Schaefer said. "But when the new coaching staff came in we were so open to what they had to say. We were ready to buy in and willing to put forth the effort. We believed in what they taught us and we believed in the philosophy they brought into the program. We just fully embraced the great opportunity that they presented."
What's changed since?
"I mean, everything," Schaefer said. "It's been a complete turnaround
"Just our attitude, our demeanor. And it's not only off the field but in the classroom, around campus, guys in the cafeteria. They are just so much more respectful. They are proud to wear the W on their chests. They are proud to wear their gear around campus, just to show they are a part of something special. They worked hard, and they are proud of what they do."
Schaefer doesn't hesitate when asked for his greatest memory of his time at UW that spans a previous coaching staff and the winless season of 2008 that seems like eons ago.
"The guys that are here. I've been through so much with these guys, and two of my greatest friends are Justin Glenn and Cody Bruns, who I've lived with for four years now," he said. "I lived with them in the dorms (freshman year), yeah.
"The football is great, great memories, but this is going to continue. There are so many great memories that will go on after football with these guys. I just cherish that relationship with those guys, and look forward to keeping it going after this is over."
That will be all well and good - as long as they don't mess with his favorite chair.
INSIDE CAMP: Tuesday was back-to-health day for the Huskies. Erik Kohler practiced for the first time since spraining his knee Aug. 6. Not only did he take part in the morning session but he was also full go in the night practice. LB Thomas Tutogi, who blocked a punt in last season's Apple Cup to create a Jesse Callier touchdown, returned from a sprained knee for both practices. And converted safety Travis Feeney was back from injury at LB. "It's just good that we are starting to get healthy again," Sarkisian said, 11 days before the opener. ... The coach said he is likely to play seven or eight linemen each on the offensive and defensive lines in the first few games, which is standard in warmer weather and with some linemen, such as Kohler and Tanigawa, returning from long injuries. ... Sarkisian said the players are already running some plays that are in the game plan for San Diego State on Sept. 1, though it won't been presented specifically to them as such until early next week. ... Freshman WR Jaydon Mickens continued to impress on the first-team offense. Known for speed, he made tough catches in traffic over the middle on passes from Price in Tuesday night's scrimmaging. ... The Huskies practice once Wednesday. Their final scrimmage of the preseason will be a closed, mock game Friday at CenturyLink Field. They will go through everything from pregame warm-ups to coming out onto the field through the coin toss and in-game situations.