University of Washington

Huskies reel in big catch

Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who'll be a senior at Gig Harbor when school opens, left Huskies fans smiling Monday night when he announced his intention to play college football at Washington.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who'll be a senior at Gig Harbor when school opens, left Huskies fans smiling Monday night when he announced his intention to play college football at Washington. The Olympian

A strong-willed, sure-handed iron horse on the football field, Gig Harbor High’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins was anything but that Monday night.

He sat on the outside steps of the Gig Harbor Yacht Club in deep thought. He was fidgety. Nerves were being felt all over the place.

Once it was time to announce his college choice, he stood tall – giving the University of Washington an oral commitment over Texas and hard-charging Florida.

Seferian-Jenkins, a 6-foot-7 tight end ranked in the top two at his position nationally by virtually every recruiting service, cited close proximity to his mother, Linda, and his relationship with UW coach Steve Sarkisian as the decisive factors in picking the Huskies.

He said he would try to play basketball, too.

“It’s a weight off my shoulders,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “It’s been hard sometimes to sleep at night. It’s great knowing I’m done, and I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

Seferian-Jenkins starts training camp with the Tides on Wednesday for his senior season. Signing day – when he will make his decision to attend UW official – is Feb. 2, 2011.

Perhaps by then, he’ll be the top recruit coming out of Washington – ahead of Skyline High receiver Kasen Williams or Auburn High offensive lineman Danny Shelton, whose decisions are forthcoming.

This was Seferian-Jenkins’ night, and he tried to keep his decision a secret – and did, even from his best friend on the Gig Harbor team, quarterback Troy Castle.

“He actually didn’t tell me until right before,” Castle said. “I had a good sense and I asked all the time, but he kept saying, ‘It’s close.’ ”

Seferian-Jenkins made an unofficial visit to Texas on Aug. 6-7. Two days later, he sat down with his mother and sorted out the pros and cons of his top three schools.

“I’ve gone to every program in in the world,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I might be feeling them when I’m there, but when I get home, it’s always ‘Sark, Sark, football and UW.’ ”

When it came down to announcing his school – he had 38 NCAA Division I offers along the way – he bent down and picked up a hat from underneath the dais. That hat bore a UW logo, and he had a Husky-logo football in his grasp as well.

“Once we started getting the Alabamas and the Oklahomas coming in he needed that exposure,” Gig Harbor coach Darren McKay said. “And once it got to the point when there was nobody else to possibly offer him, then I think he realized that home is just as good as some of those other places.”

The bond with Sarkisian had undoubtedly been a huge influence.

Seferian-Jenkins made “14 or 15” unofficial visits to UW – sometimes to watch film in the coaches’ offices, or just to stop by practice and watch.

“He cared about my mom, my family. He cared about me as a person. I had family stuff sometimes, and I could talk to him about it,” Seferian-Jenkins said of Sarkisian. “He was like a big brother almost. I didn’t want to say no to him.”

In the end, he didn’t.

“(Tight end) is a need, but they still got great guys there,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I think a lot of people think just because Kavario (Middleton) left, that is why I decided to go there. That’s not it. I still would have gone there if Kavario was still there and doing great. It didn’t matter.”

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