Tight end’s DUI issue hangs over Huskies

Staff writerJuly 27, 2013 

CULVER CITY, Calif. — Though he was among the sound stages behind the arched, chalk-white entrance to Sony Studios, the questions were the same for University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian.

He spent a second consecutive day discussing the future of star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins at Pacific-12 Conference media day Friday. Despite being flanked by sound stages instead of being in an ESPN studio, as Sarkisian was Thursday, no movie magic could make the questions disappear.

Nor did Sarkisian’s answers change. He said Seferian-Jenkins still has work to do following the 20-year-old’s conviction for drunken driving before any further punishment will be determined.

So, it remains unknown whether Seferian-Jenkins will play in the Huskies’ opening game Aug. 31 against Boise State.

Sarkisian did reiterate several points about the process: He feels this was out of character for Seferian-Jenkins. He believes

the Gig Harbor native has handled the ordeal with maturity since making a mistake. He evaluates all situations and potential penalties separately.

“I think the worse punishment is spending the night in jail and spending the thousands of dollars as a college kid,” Sarkisian said. “Then the public humiliation you have to endure as a 20-year-old guy that he’s had to go through. I think that is really severe.

“Now, that being said, that is all punitive. That’s what the legal system does. As I’ve said before, when we get to a final decision of what we do, as much of what we do will be about developing Austin and rehabilitating Austin more than … punishment.”

As part of his sentencing, Seferian-Jenkins had to spend a night in jail. He did so in Issaquah from July 15-16, according to the Seattle City Attorney’s office.

He’s also heard from his teammates. When Seferian-Jenkins was suspended from spring practice, quarterback Keith Price would stay after practice and throw to him. Price said he let Seferian-Jenkins — and Kasen Williams, who was cited for underage drinking after he was pulled over this month — know he had an issue with his actions.

“I’m glad it hasn’t affected our chemistry,” Price said. “It’s actually brought us closer together. We told Austin, ‘Hey, man, that’s unacceptable. Especially a guy of your caliber.’ He understood that. He never blamed anybody. He knows he made a mistake.”

Captain Sean Parker said he spoke to Seferian-Jenkins and Williams, too.

“As a team, we told them both, ‘You’ve got to make better decisions,’ ” Parker, a safety, said. “We made it a huge emphasis. I personally talked to Austin and personally talked Kasen, and told them, ‘We need you guys. Everybody looks up to you guys, you guys have to be positive role models for everybody.’ ”

Sarkisian said Seferian-Jenkins and Williams will participate when camp starts Aug. 5. Sarkisian also said that he will address the situation publicly for the final time during a news conference that day.

Stanford went through a similar situation last year when star linebacker Shayne Skov was cited for DUI in January 2012. The Cardinal suspended him immediately — as Washington did with Seferian-Jenkins.

“It was isolation away from the team and for a true competitor, that’s just as hard as missing a game,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “That’s being out of the locker room. You’re not allowed to be with your friends. I think that hit him as hard as anything.

“I’m glad that officer caught him every single day. That could have been tragic for Shayne and whoever else was on the road at that time.”

Shaw said being personally affected by drunken driving influenced his decision, as did the fact it was the first time Skov had been in trouble at the program.

“I personally pride myself on being a good citizen and positive citizen, but that made people who don’t necessarily know me cast me in that light,” Skov said. “So, for at least a short period of time to have that be the key point of my character, was a difficult time for me. “

Shaw capped the punishment with the one-game suspension.

“It needed to be real,” Shaw said. “That was the cherry on top. I tell them all, in order for me to get your attention, I take away what you love. You love the game of football, and you don’t do what’s right, and you put yourself at risk, you put this team at risk, this university at risk and me at risk? I’m going to take away what you love.”

Now, Sarkisian has his own decision to make.

PAC-12 media poll

The media poll has correctly selected the conference champion in 28 of 52 previous polls, including 11 of the past 13. Here are the results of the preseason media poll (points 6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses):

NORTH DIVISION

1. Oregon (15)145

2. Stanford (11) 139

3. Oregon State 95

4. Washington 84

5. California 47

6. Washington State 33

SOUTH DIVISION

1. UCLA (12)135

2. Arizona State (10)130

3. USC (4)117

4. Arizona76

5. Utah60

6. Colorado28

PAC-12 TITLE GAME CHAMPION: Oregon (14 votes)

Others receiving votes: Stanford (8), UCLA (3)

todd.dybas@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas

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