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Originally published August 26, 2011 at 10:02 PM | Page modified August 27, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Former Husky Demitrius Bronson making the most of his chance at Eastern Washington

Tailback Demitrius Bronson transferred from Washington to Eastern Washington, seeking more playing time. When the Eagles open the season Sept. 3 at Husky Stadium, he'll face his old teammates.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday, Sept. 3

Eastern Washington @ UW, 4 p.m., ROOT Sports

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The move from the hustle and bustle of the Seattle area to the wide-open spaces of Cheney required an adjustment period for Demitrius Bronson.

"But I think it's something I needed," said the former Kentwood High tailback who spent two years with the Washington Huskies before transferring to Eastern Washington last spring. "I needed to get away for a minute and clear my head and get back into it. It was good to just feel like I have a little space out here."

Room enough to run, in other words, something he wasn't likely to have done anytime soon at Washington.

"Pretty much it was playing time," he says, when asked why he left UW. "You know if I would have stayed there I probably would have gotten playing time my junior year, senior year, but it probably would have been limited and wouldn't have been the kind of playing time I wanted to get."

At Eastern, he enters the season in a two-man rotation at tailback with sophomore Mario Brown, each seeking to replace Taiwan Jones, an FCS All-American now with the Oakland Raiders.

And that means a reunion with his former teammates when the Eagles play the Huskies in the season opener for both schools at Husky Stadium at 4 p.m. on Sept. 3.

"He's going to have an impact," said Eastern coach Beau Baldwin. "He's going to have some carries there at Husky Stadium in Game 1. I expect great things for him this year. I'm not really concerned whether Mario Brown starts every game or if Demitrius starts some games. Those two guys are going to be the one and two at running back."

There was a time when it looked like that designation might fit Bronson at UW.

After rushing for 3,810 yards at Kentwood, he signed with UW as part of former coach Tyrone Willingham's last full class in 2008. Academic issues delayed his enrollment until the winter of 2009, by which time Steve Sarkisian had taken over as coach.

Bronson was one of the stars of the first UW spring under Sarkisian, and played in seven games as a true freshman in 2009, rushing for 39 yards against Oregon.

But a fumble late in the Apple Cup win over Washington State was symbolic of what coaches felt was an area Bronson needed to improve — holding on to the ball.

"I know I had a little trouble with that," he said. "It's a deal where they have to be able to trust you, and once I lost that trust it was pretty much a wrap for me in that aspect at UW."

He rebounded to have another good spring in 2010, leading the Huskies with 72 yards in the spring game. But he never saw the field that season as Chris Polk and Jesse Callier took over at the tailback spot.

"I had a couple good springs and was thinking I was going to get more playing time than I saw," he said. "But there were a few other things that went into it, coaching changes and different players coming in. It just wasn't the right mix for the time."

Bronson, listed at 5 feet 10, 225 pounds, said he thought briefly about transferring to another FBS school. But Eastern had also recruited him heavily out of high school, and with Jones leaving for the NFL, he saw an immediate opportunity. Because he didn't play last season, he is officially a sophomore.

"It was a no-brainer for us," said Baldwin.

Bronson says he's looking forward to the return to Husky Stadium, and has been trying to prep his new teammates for the atmosphere.

As for whether he has something to prove to his former coaches, he says, "Not really. Just that I can play, you know? It was just bad timing probably on both parts. I don't have anything against UW at all. I'm still a Dawg at heart. It's just really about going to play a game and going to have fun again right now."

NOTES

• The Eagles had hoped to have another former Husky on their roster for the game — defensive lineman Andru Pulu. However, a waiver of transfer rules that would have allowed him to play this season was denied, so he is ineligible. Pulu, a Federal Way High graduate, was dismissed by UW after breaking a man's nose in an off-campus fight in March 2010. He was later sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to second-degree assault. Pulu is not practicing with the Eagles but will join the team when school begins next month and will be eligible to play in 2012.

• UW's practice Friday was closed to the media and public.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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