Seferian-Jenkins leads revival of tight-end spot for Huskies
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a true freshman from Gig Harbor who enrolled at UW in time for spring football, is the most heralded of the Huskies' three tight ends.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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In his first meeting with the media Tuesday since enrolling at Washington last March, Austin Seferian-Jenkins revealed he has lost more than 20 pounds since then.
"I was like 280 when I first came here," he said, saying he now weights 257.
That 23 pounds is still not as much as the tight end position lost at Washington last year, when it pretty much just disappeared as the season wore on.
As UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday, the Huskies "operated (last year) essentially without a tight end."
That isn't the case any longer, thanks to the addition of three freshmen who should transform the position in 2011 — and maybe begin the return of the Huskies to their once-proud status, as dubbed by Sports Illustrated, as Tight End U.
Seferian-Jenkins, a true freshman from Gig Harbor who enrolled at UW in time for spring football, is the most heralded of the three. But as UW begins fall camp this week, he's battling redshirt freshman Michael Hartvigson for the starting job, with walk-on redshirt freshman Evan Hudson also in the mix.
The trio was among the revelations of the spring, giving the Huskies an offensive flexibility they lacked most of last year. The UW's tight-end downfall began when Kavario Middleton was kicked off the team last summer.
As is the case for newcomers, Seferian-Jenkins was kept off limits to the media during the spring. But Tuesday the wraps were taken off, and he admitted that as he watched the Huskies last season, "I saw an opportunity. I chased an opportunity and felt like I just wanted to be a part of something special."
And he didn't want to wait to be part of it, graduating from high school a few days before UW started spring ball, a move he said he's even more thankful for now.
"Oh, yeah, it really helped a lot," he said. "Coming back now in whatever you call this camp, the fall camp, everything's just easier. I'm so happy that I came in the spring. ... My advice to people who want to do it: 'Do it.' It helps you out tremendously. It gives you an advantage over all the other people in the competition. It just gets your mind right for fall camp and things like this."
Seferian-Jenkins made it back to Gig Harbor, then settled in again at UW, termed by Huskies trainers as one of most devoted workers of the summer.
The strength is needed; blocking is the area of his game that might need the most attention.
"I think it's somewhat of a (learning) curve just because he wasn't asked to do that as much in high school," said Sarkisian, saying Seferian-Jenkins was used essentially as a wideout most of the time at Gig Harbor. "But to his credit, he's been very willing. It's not like he doesn't want to do it. It's the fundamentals.
"He's a great athlete and he has the ability to use the techniques and the fundamentals, but all of a sudden you get into the heat of the battle and Hau'oli Jamora is lined up across from you or Talia Crichton or Everrette Thompson, and those fundamentals get thrown out the window. So when we can get him honed into those techniques and those fundamentals, he'll be fine."
Said Seferian-Jenkins: "I felt like it was a tough transition in the spring. I never really played tight end before. I played a little bit in high school. Just learning it, learning the concepts, learning how to block, I'm still doing all that right now. I'm never going to be perfect, and I'm always going to keep striving to get better and better."
From day one, though, he's looked like a veteran catching the ball.
"He's as talented physically as anybody I've ever had at that position," said Sarkisian. "He's 6-6, 250-something pounds, whatever he is, the hand-eye coordination he possesses is extremely unique. He's got extremely soft hands and he has the ability to keep his feet underneath him and the ability to release using his hands, yet use wiggle. You can't teach that kind of stuff."
• The Huskies will put on helmets and shoulder pads for the first time when they take the field Wednesday at 3:15. They went through a two-hour no-pads, no-contact workout Tuesday. There were no injuries.
• The most interesting personnel move may have been the dozen-or-so snaps that walk-on Nick Holt of Seattle Prep — and the son of UW's defensive coordinator of the same name — received at fullback. UW is looking for depth there after losing two scholarship players at that spot in the offseason. Holt played quarterback, running back and linebacker at Prep and is listed as a linebacker on the UW roster. "He's a bright kid," Sarkisian said. "Any time you're the son of a coach, that helps."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
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