‘ACL Guys’ hope to get last laugh

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comAugust 29, 2013 

SEATTLE — An unofficial club started last season for the Huskies: The ACL Guys.

One day, that could be the title of a mediocre sitcom on an obscure TV network viewers find by accident.

For now, it’s a group set to give Washington a large boost.

Defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha is atop the depth chart, reclaiming the starting spot he held late in the season as a true freshman in 2010. He missed most of 2011 because of a knee injury and all of 2012 after hurting his knee again in last year’s fall camp.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said Kikaha looks better than ever.

Running back Jesse Callier, who tore his knee in last season’s opener, also made it through camp without a hitch. He often was on the stationary bike during the first week of camp, continuing to pedal himself into shape and his brain toward calm.

“I was kind of cautious, which is natural,” Callier said. “Because this was my first surgery. As camp progressed on, I got better mentally. Someone told me that it’s all psychological now. I just try to tell myself every day, nothing’s wrong with it. Nothing is wrong with it.”

Callier may have even benefited from the injury. He says he’s faster now than he was prior to tearing his ACL.

One of his running mates and another member of the ACL Guys is Deontae Cooper. In four years, this is the furthest Cooper has progressed through camp. He didn’t participate in his first or second camp after ACL tears and barely put in work last season before another occurred.

Tuesday and Wednesday he put in extra work after practice with graduate assistant Kenyon Blue. Cooper was practicing his footwork and cutting in an empty end zone he hopes to one day visit during a game.

“I’m over the hump now,” Cooper said. “There’s that doubt, but, at the same time, I’ve got to take a step back and think about it. It’s been three years, you can’t expect to get it all back in three weeks.”

Starting right guard Colin Tanigawa tore his ACL and MCL in the second game last season. He’s back at full strength and arguably the Huskies’ best offensive lineman despite being slightly undersized at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds.

Nose tackle Lawrence Lagafuaina has healed from his knee injury, is working on his stamina and is listed as a co-backup. Since Washington’s offense is shifting to a full-time up-tempo approach, rotating defensive linemen will be a necessity.

At the start of fall camp, each was a question mark. In the end, two are starters, one’s a captain (Kikaha) and the others powered up to contribute.

At this point, that’s a coup for Washington.

SEFERIAN-JENKINS UPDATE

Preseason All-American tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was again dressed for practice without any protection on his right hand for his previously broken pinkie.

Seferian-Jenkins broke his pinkie Aug. 12 and had a pin inserted during surgery three days later. Sarkisian said back then it was a clean break.

Sarkisian declined comment on Seferian-Jenkins.

“I’m done talking about injuries,” Sarkisian said.

EXTRA POINTS

Sarkisian also said the Huskies have determined who will redshirt this season, but wouldn’t comment on the decisions until after Saturday’s opener against 19th-ranked Boise State. … Final projected price tag on renovated Husky Stadium: $280.6 million. … Fullback Psalm Wooching said last year’s starting fullback Jonathan Amosa took him under his wing and “taught him the way of the fullback.” Wooching said he’s embraced the “hard-hat” mentality of the position.

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

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