SEATTLE — Sitting on a short stack of concrete steps, Washington’s preseason All-American waited for the media to finish with his coach.
Wednesday was the first time Huskies tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins spoke to reporters in almost a month since breaking his pinkie in practice Aug. 12.
During that time, there were few answers about whether he would play in the opener after being cited for DUI in March.
All the will-he-or-won’t-he came to an end Saturday night when redshirt freshman Josh Perkins was announced as Washington’s starting tight end, revealing the final layer of Seferian-Jenkins’ punishment.
He’ll be back Sept. 14 at Soldier Field when 20th-ranked Washington faces Illinois. The questions around his possible suspension will now cease.
“They’re done, but what happened, happened,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I’m ready to just move on. I think everyone here has moved on. I think everyone on the team (has) moved on. That’s the most important thing – what the guys on the team think and the coaching staff thinks. We’re just ready. All we’re thinking about is getting better every day.”
He is trying to swiftly move into Washington’s zooming offense. Monday he was back with the first team taking full repetitions and was winded. He said his conditioning had already improved by Wednesday, when he was keeping up with the starters.
“I’m not where I want to be yet,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “But, today, I feel like I was running with the first team as well as anyone else. I feel like I am in pretty good shape right now but can be in excellent shape by next Thursday.”
Seferian-Jenkins did get some running in Saturday night during the game against Boise State. He was a very noticeable 6-foot-6 towel-waving crazed person on the sideline. In fact, the Huskies received a warning from officials because Seferian-Jenkins ran into the end zone to celebrate Perkins’ touchdown.
He was in full uniform after asking coach Steve Sarkisian if he could dress to be a maximum part of the team while serving his suspension from the field.
“I came out here with my team and wanted to support them,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “Anything that Coach Sark graciously allowed me to do. That meant running up and down the sideline congratulating anybody that scored or just listening on the huddle. Just because you’re not playing doesn’t mean you’re not part of the team.
“I think a lot of people misunderstand the importance of the people who are not playing.”
It’s hard to overstate his importance for the Huskies. Seferian-Jenkins owns almost every receiving record for a tight end in school history. Adding him seems like a luxury item for Washington after quarterback Keith Price sprayed the ball to seven receivers during the 38-6 romp over Boise State.
“Another weapon,” Sarkisian said. “When you look at our team, we have a variety of weapons of where the ball can go.”
Sarkisian, who initially suspended Seferian-Jenkins two games before reducing the punishment, is equally impressed with how the junior has handled himself since his DUI.
“A lot of guys in that situation could have sulked, had their head down,” Sarkisian said. “I think his attitude has been tremendous.”
Starting next week, they get to assess his performance firstname.lastname@example.org