SEATTLE - Remember when the University Washington was regarded as one the world's leading producers of NFL-ready tight ends?
Between 1992 and 2002, five UW tight ends were drafted between rounds one and five of the NFL draft: Aaron Pierce (third round, 1992), Mark Bruener (first round, 1995), Ernie Conwell (second round, 1996), Jeremy Brigham (fifth round, 1998) and River Ridge alum Jerramy Stevens (first round, 2002).
Although that pipeline to the pros stalled after Stevens was selected by the Seahawks, the Huskies’ tight-end tradition appears to have been revived by Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
At the conclusion of Saturday’s spring-practice workout at Husky Stadium during a red-zone drill, the recent Gig Harbor High graduate caught what might best be described as an indefensible touchdown pass thrown by quarterback Keith Price.
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Actually, it was a toss-up, but Seferian-Jenkins, taking advantage of his 6-foot-6 height and uncommon jumping ability, grabbed the ball in the end zone for an easy touchdown.
“You have the big tight end that can make plays for you in the red zone, even when he’s really covered, that the quarterback can trust them,” Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said. “They have that ability to go up and make a play even when they are covered.”
Seferian-Jenkins’ catch was not close to the most acrobatic play of the workout.
Junior receiver James Johnson earned that distinction an hour earlier with a highlight-video reception.
But Johnson, attempting to revive a career that took a sophomore-season detour with a problematic ankle, also dropped some passes.
“I think he is competing really hard,” Sarkisian said. “Sometimes when you compete hard, you can try too hard. He’s had a couple of drops here that I know he doesn’t want to have and that we obviously don’t want him to have. So I just want him to step back and relax and play the game and not think every catch is the bottom of the ninth (inning) with two outs.”
After the Huskies’ third workout of the spring, Sarkisian ascribed high marks to the work of a running-back group led by junior Chris Polk, the tight ends (Seferian-Jenkins and redshirt freshman Michael Hartvigson) and the cornerbacks (senior Quinton Richardson, junior Desmond Trufant).
“I don’t see a lot of balls being completed against Quinton and Tru right now,” Sarkisian said.
The Huskies wore shoulder pads and helmets Saturday. They’ll go to full pads when they reconvene Tuesday afternoon at 4.