Austin Seferian-Jenkins has given Huskies an option at tight end
Freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins has made the tight end position a part of Washington's offense this season. Coach Steve Sarkisian said Seferian-Jenkins has shown great improvement during the season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs
With one game remaining, Washington freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins already has more receptions than all but six other UW tight ends have had in a season.
It's a catch he didn't make, though, that he says might be the biggest lesson of his first year of college football.
Seferian-Jenkins dropped a pass while wide open in the third quarter at Oregon State on Nov. 19, with UW trailing 17-14. Instead of a catch and 78-yard game-turning TD, the play was simply another disappointment on a day when UW suffered its most disheartening loss of the season, 38-21 against a Beavers team that finished 3-9.
Seferian-Jenkins, though, says the play hasn't left a scar. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"I'm almost happy it happened to me because I've learned so much from it," he said after a recent practice during UW's preparation for its Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Antonio against Baylor.
"More than any catch I've ever had, that drop taught me so much about myself and the game of football and being a better player, and made me more mentally tough," he said. "So I appreciate the circumstances it was in and what it brought me as a football player and I think it will make me a lot better football player than I ever thought I could be."
The learning process began the next day when he was forced to see it again and again on film.
"I had to watch it and saw it, and I didn't even try and catch it with my hands," he said. "That was the sad thing — my hands didn't even touch the ball. I tried to catch it like I've never caught the ball before. ... Just run down and catch the ball. I was thinking too much, and when you start thinking, it messes you up and you make it a bigger deal than it really is, and that's when you screw up."
Those are realizations he says will pay off.
"Honestly, you drop some balls," he said. "Now I move on from it and I'm just looking forward to the balls I'm going to catch against Baylor."
And while he might have had a memorable drop, he had 36 receptions, the most for a Huskies tight end since Kevin Ware had 42 in 2002, a total that is second in UW history (Jerramy Stevens is first with 48 in 2000).
He also averaged 13.3 yards per catch, third on the team and evidence of athleticism rare for his position. His 479 yards receiving are the second-most of any true freshman in school history behind only the 1,035 of Reggie Williams in 2001. Along the way, he has earned several honors as an All-Freshman first team All-American, notably from FoxSportsNext.com and CBSSports.com. And he has made the tight-end position — virtually nonexistent in UW's offense last year — a dangerous option again.
Seferian-Jenkins was regarded as one of the top recruits in the nation for the Class of 2011 after a standout career at Gig Harbor High School.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, though, said he had tried not to place expectations or limits on Seferian-Jenkins.
"Austin is an extremely talented kid with a tremendous work ethic (who) wants to be great, who really improved as the season went along," Sarkisian said. "It's easy to see the flashy catches and the big plays in the passing game, but there is so much more that goes into the position of tight end, whether it's run blocking, or pass protection, the precision in route running, the attention to detail. And he really, really improved as the season went on. The honors he's getting are deserving, but I think his future is so bright, his best days are ahead of him."
Seferian-Jenkins was also named to the All-Pac-12 honorable mention team, which he said made more of an impression than the freshmen honors.
"That made me hungry more than anything," he said. "I want that (to be named All-Pac-12 in future years) way more."
While he has big football goals, he says he might play basketball this winter.
Seferian-Jenkins has dropped hints several times he might want to walk on to the UW basketball team after the bowl game, and said last week, "I'm talking about it, so it's pretty serious. But all my focus right now is on playing against Baylor."
No football player has also played basketball since Nate Robinson following the 2002 season, and Seferian-Jenkins won't hit the court until after he talks with Sarkisian following the bowl game.
"If guys are good enough to do stuff like that, then I don't have a problem with it," Sarkisian said. "It's just got to be right, and I've got to make sure he's in the right frame of mind. We'll deal with that after the bowl game."
• The Huskies practiced Monday morning in the Dempsey Indoor and now are off until leaving for San Antonio on Friday and resuming practices there on Saturday.
• Sarkisian said the biggest health question remains safety Will Shamburger, who missed the WSU game with a stinger/nerve issue and is not yet fully recovered. Otherwise, he said Monday that the team could be the healthiest it has been all season.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta.
|In good hands|
|Top 10 seasons for UW tight end, by receptions:|
|Rec.||Tight end (year)|
|48||Jerramy Stevens (2000)|
|42||David Bayle (1980)|
|42||Kevin Ware (2002)|
|39||Bill Ames (1989)|
|38||Dave Williams (1965)|
|36||Rod Jones (1985)|
|36||Austin Seferian-Jenkins (2011)|
|34||Rod Jones (1986)|
|34||Mark Bruener (1994)|
|30||John Brady (1972)|
|30||Aaron Pierce (1991)|
|30||Mark Bruener (1993)|
|Top 10 seasons for UW tight end, by yards:|
|Yds||Tight end (year)|
|795||Dave Williams (1966)|
|641||Jerramy Stevens (2000)|
|479||Austin Seferian-Jenkins (2011)|
|475||Kevin Ware (2002)|
|450||John Brady (1972)|
|414||Mark Bruener (1993)|
|414||Ernie Conwell (1995)|
|366||Aaron Pierce (1991)|
|361||John Brady (1971)|
|360||David Bayle (1980)|
Trending on seattletimes.com
Most viewed photo galleries
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
Career Center Blog
Your Opinion Matters
Take our survey and enter to win $100. Enter Now!