Oct. 24, 2008
by Michael Jeremiah
Jordan White-Frisbee and Casey Bulyca both grew up watching the prestigious linemen that were the trademarks of Washington football teams during their childhoods. Husky Legends such as Lincoln Kennedy and Steve Emtman were the ultimate of physically dominate linemen, and were a sight to see for any fan, much less future Pac-10 prospects watching at home.
White-Frisbee and Bulyca both hail from the Puget Sound region, and seemed destined to wear purple-and-gold from a young age. In Bulyca's case, the decision to become a Husky is still as clear as day -- even more so a decade later.
"I was born and raised in Woodinville. I grew up and always wanted to be a Husky," said Bulyca. "I came here in fourth grade on a field trip. My teacher's husband actually played football here. I basically told my mom that I wanted to play football at the University of Washington, and I always knew that I wanted to play here."
The road from a fourth-grade field trip to Montlake was filled with a number of high school football accolades, as Bulyca was named to numerous all-area teams during his high school career, adding a nomination to the Seattle Times all-state team as a senior. He was in the top-50 offensive lineman nationally for his class according to Scout.com, and although other schools in the Northwest were interested in him, Bulyca stayed true to his early desire to play Husky football.
Bulyca first saw playing time in 2006 on Montlake as a redshirt sophomore. Last year, Bulyca started 11 games at right guard. He entered his senior season as the starter at right guard for the Huskies.
White-Frisbee was another highly touted recruit from the Seattle area. An imposing two-way lineman, White-Frisbee was a member of numerous Seattle all-area teams and an all-state selection during his playing career at Inglemoor High School in Kenmore. Schools from all over the Northwest contended for White-Frisbee's services, but similar to Bulyca, he knew that Washington was the only place that he wanted to be.
"I didn't really take any official visits," said White-Frisbee. "I knew I was going to go here because I grew up in this area and I always wanted to Dawg."
Defense seemed to be in his future, as he was ranked among the top-50 defensive linemen nationally according to Scout.com. In fact, White-Frisbee saw significant time on the defensive side of the ball during his freshmen year. Starting eight games at defensive tackle as a true freshman, White-Frisbee recorded 26 tackles and made The Sporting News' 2004 Pac-10 All- Freshman team.
His bright career on the defensive side of the ball started to grow dim, though, after White-Frisbee broke his foot the following spring. The injury forced him to redshirt the 2005 season, and things just got worse from there, as the same foot continued to break. After breaking his foot three times, the injury-riddled White-Frisbee was forced to switch from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive line, which he was not happy about initially.
"At first I didn't really deal with it well at all," said White- Frisbee. "I injured myself the first time when I was young and stupid and I just kept playing on it. They tried to put me on O-line anyway, and I said no and just kept doing what I had to do. And you know, I broke my foot three times and so God said, `Go play o-line.'"
The transition to offensive line was not an easy one for White- Frisbee, but he worked hard enough to be on the field goal unit in 2006. In 2007, White-Frisbee started in Washington's victory over California that was marked by a strong rushing attack for the Huskies.
Coming into this year, the two were the Huskies starting offensive guard tandem. Their senior year was supposed to be marked by strong offensive line that they would help to lead. However, Bulyca struggled with a shoulder injury early in the year, and just last week had surgery to repair an injured knee. The fifth-year senior will likely miss the rest of the season. While the season has not went as well as the guard tandem had hoped, both White-Frisbee and Bulyca think that the line can turn it around for the rest of the season, starting with the Irish this week.
"We have to forget about all the hype and put all that stuff behind us and put our hard hats on and go to work," said Bulyca. "We want to let the team to be able to lean on us."
Said White-Frisbee: "We pumped our chest out way too much and got humbled that very first game. I think from then on, as a team, we have kind of split. The key to the rest of the season is coming back together and have some confidence in ourselves knowing that we have good players."
Personally, White-Frisbee said that he hopes to prove himself throughout the rest of the season as a physical player who is respected by his opponents and others who see him play. Regardless of what happens for the rest of the year, both White-Frisbee and Bulyca will have their Washington playing careers end this season. After almost five years and 52 games at Washington, favorite moments are bound to arise.
For Bulyca, the memory of the 35-32 victory over Washington State in the 2006 Apple Cup takes the spot as his favorite Husky moment. White-Frisbee's favorite Husky moment happened almost five years ago, when he was still on the defensive side of the ball.
"My first real big play was against UCLA," said White Frisbee, referring to the valiant effort he made on defense before the offense fell short on the final drive to lose to the Bruins 37-31 in 2004. "At the goal line, we made them kick a field goal to put us in a spot where we could win. We almost did too. We missed it by about a yard."
Whether or not their football careers continues after this season remains to be seen. Both players have the size that NFL scouts drool over. No matter what happens, they know they will take something they learned from their days playing Husky football with them throughout their lives.
"Definitely to be able to fight through adversity as far as some of the things we went through," said Bulyca, an American Indian Studies major who someday hopes to coach offensive line. "We haven't won a lot of games but I think it helps build character for the future. I mean, if you can fight through this, you can fight through anything."
After careers filled with obstacles and adversity, it would seem fair for remorse to creep into the back of their heads. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The commitment that White-Frisbee and Bulyca have held for the Huskies from a young age transcends any disappointment that they have faced on the field.
"I don't regret coming here, regardless of how the win column has been," said White-Frisbee. "For me, since the day I was born I started thinking that this is a good program. This is a good spot to be in athletically. It is a good institution with a lot of pride and tradition."
Even Bulyca, on crutches with fresh incisions on his knees due to his gutty dedication to a team that needed him, is proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of the program that he had idolized since he was a boy.
"I'll always have fond memories because I have made so many great friends and met so many good people," said Bulyca. "I wouldn't trade any of it for anything in the world. I'll always be a Husky and I'll always love this place no matter what.