Nov. 22, 2011
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Days after his highest-profile mishap so far in college football, Austin Seferian-Jenkinscontinues to stand tall.
Especially tall for an 18-year-old kid who enrolled at Washington and began practicing with the Huskies two months before he attended his high school prom.
"Just forgetting about Oregon State," UW's freshman tight end said after Tuesday night's drenched practice, sounding as big as his 6-foot-6, 260-pound body that was getting pelted by a downpour. "Tons of times it's happened before where I've had a tough loss or dropped a ball that you think you should have caught and it would have changed the game. It happens. Nobody's perfect.
"The only one who is perfect is God - and I know I'm not him," he said, chuckling. "So it's all good."
And that's all good for the Huskies (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12). They go into Saturday's 104th Apple Cup at CenturyLink Field against Washington State (4-7, 2-6) at 4:30 p.m. (Versus television, the Washington IMG radio network and here at GoHuskies.com with another live game chat) needing a bounce back from their huge tight end.
That would boost Washington's entire offense. It is getting quarterback Keith Priceback from a sprained knee in time to face a Cougars defense that is much improved from last season's meeting in Pullman.
Seferian-Jenkins caught two touchdown passes from Price's replacement, Nick Montana, last weekend, and caught a season-high six passes in all at Oregon State. Yet all anyone remembers about his game is that he dropped what would likely have been a third TD catch from Montana, in the third quarter. With no Beavers within 20 yards of him at the Oregon State 40 and OSU leading 17-14, Montana's lofted throw rattled between both arms and then off Seferian-Jenkins' leg to the turf.
The Beavers scored the next 14 points, and the Huskies ultimately lost a game they felt they should have won 38-21.
Immediately after UW's third consecutive loss, Seferian-Jenkins impressively answered all questions about the dropped pass -- just as he did for more than 10 minutes in the rain Tuesday night.
That strong character is partly why Huskies coach Steve Sarkisiansaid moments after last weekend's game, "Austin's a great player. He will make a lot of plays for us the next three years."
Seferian-Jenkins said his teammates have come up to him in Corvallis and in the days since with encouragement, though it sounds like he didn't need much.
"People have come up to me saying, `Hey, you know, I've missed blocks or I've dropped balls. It happens, you know?'" he said.
"It's too bad it happened at that time, but it happens. I'm a freshman. It's going to happen. It's going to happen my senior year. Someone else in the country dropped a ball like that this year.
"There's a 24-hour rule here. Move on. Tough loss. It happens that not everything goes your way. If it was easy, everyone would do it, and it's not. I've just got to move on. We have a great challenge this week, and I am looking forward to it. I think the whole team is looking forward to it."
Seferian-Jenkins moving past Oregon State bodes well for Washington. He is tied with Jermaine Kearsefor the team with six TD catches, and his 32 receptions are third on the offense.
"You've got to move on," he said. "You just have to get better. I'm not going to dwell on the past. I'm going to move on. I'm going to make that catch the next time."
He would love nothing more than for that next time to come during Saturday in a rivalry game he has grown up watching. He was born in Fox Island, Pierce County, and went to nearby Gig Harbor High School before becoming a recruit every football power from Florida through Texas to USC wanted to sign last winter.
"It's a really fun rivalry," he said of the Apple Cup. "Everyone in the state watches. Everyone is really passionate about it, and it's a great game for everyone.
"We've had a tough couple weeks. It just feels good going into the Apple Cup with a fresh start. This is a big game for us, a fun game for us. It's a rivalry game. Everyone is really excited about it. You could see at practice, everyone was amped up and everyone was running around. I feel like everyone's got fresh legs and are all really excited about it.
"It's going to be a fun game."
QUICK HITS: Safeties Justin Glenn (concussion) and Will Shamburger (stinger) were held out of practice. Sarkisian said Monday he thinks both will be able play against WSU, though perhaps in limited roles. ... First and Goal, Inc., which runs CenturyLink Field, said Tuesday it has sold about 63,000 tickets for Saturday's game. UW has sold approximately 35,000 of those.