SEATTLE – People in the Pacific-12 Conference know how good of a tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been for the Washington Huskies this season. Now the rest of the country has noticed.
Seferian-Jenkins was named one of three finalists for the 2012 John Mackey Award, given to the best tight end in college football.
The other finalists are juniors Zach Ertz of Stanford and Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame.
“I think he’s had a great year,” Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said. “I don’t know exactly where his numbers are in comparison to the rest of the guys. I know the impact he’s had on us offensively has been huge. Of our three real go-to guys – Austin, Kasen (Williams) and Bishop (Sankey) – Austin has had a huge role for us. He’s made some tremendous plays for us, big plays for us. I think his willingness to improve in the blocking game is evident. We are seeing him doing a better job of that as well.”
Seferian-Jenkins has 58 catches for 753 yards and five touchdowns this season. The 58 catches are a UW single-season record for a tight end. The Gig Harbor graduate also holds the school records for career receptions (99), career receiving yards (1,289) and career touchdown catches (11) for a tight end.
Ertz also has 58 catches this season, good for 747 yards and six touchdowns. Eifert leads Notre Dame with 40 receptions for 555 yards and four touchdowns.
Seferian-Jenkins can also add about 30 snaps at defensive end, including a fumble recovery, to his résumé, which includes a varsity letter as a basketball player last season.
“His willingness to do what’s best for the team by going over and playing on defense in some obvious passing downs and recovering a fumble in last week’s ballgame, I think speaks volumes for the type of individual he is,” Sarkisian said.
When Sarkisian met with the media, the finalists for the award hadn’t been announced. But it was clear how Sarkisian felt.
“If there are three better tight ends in this country better than Austin, then I’d like to see them,” he said. “I know there’s some pretty good ones in our conference, but I’d put 88 (Seferian-Jenkins’ number) right up with them all.”
Desmond Trufant’s status for Friday’s Apple Cup is uncertain.
A sore hamstring kept the senior cornerback in street clothes in Saturday’s win over Colorado. After the game, Sarkisian said the move was precautionary in hopes of getting him 100 percent healthy for Friday’s Apple Cup.
Sarkisian seemed confident Saturday that Trufant would be ready to play against the pass-happy Cougars. However, Sarkisian wasn’t quite as optimistic Monday.
“We’re hopeful,” Sarkisian said. “He has not been cleared to play yet, but we’re hopeful we get him back.
While junior Greg Ducre started and played well in Trufant’s place, not having one of the best defensive backs in the Pac-12 could be an issue. Sarkisian said Trufant is a major reason why Washington’s pass defense ranks in the top 10 in the country.
“I think Tru has been a big part of that,” Sarkisian said. “I know he didn’t play last week versus Colorado, but Desmond has been such a great leader back there. We’ve put him on so many islands against some really good players that has allowed us to roll coverages in different directions.”
While Washington State has struggled offensively, the Cougars have attempted 571 passes this season – 109 more than Arizona, which has the next most passes in the Pac-12.
Sarkisian said true freshman Shane Brostek will continue to work at defensive tackle after being recruited and starting a game as an offensive linemen. As for Brostek’s future, Sarkisian said his staff would wait until the end of the season to assess the situation. … The Huskies will practice Thanksgiving morning, then put on dress clothes – a recent tradition – and have dinner in the UW Founders Club before catching a charter flight to Pullman. … Friday’s game will air nationally on Fox TV. Craig Bolerjack (play by play), Joel Klatt (color) and Petros Papadakis (sideline reporter) will do the broadcast.Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 email@example.com