Washington sophomore defensive end Hau'oli Jamora will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury Saturday in the Huskies' victory over California.
When Steve Sarkisian was in Hau’oli Jamora’s living room to close the deal and bring Jamora to Washington, he saw immediately that he was dealing a very different kind of kid.
When coming face-to-face with their soon-to-be coach, at this moment of truth, most recruits are quiet and awe-struck. The importance of the moment catches them in their throats and in the pits of their stomachs. Words and thoughts get jumbled.
Jamora, however, was loose and funny and cracking jokes as if Sarkisian were his favorite uncle stopping in for a visit.
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Don’t misunderstand, Jamora wasn’t disrespectful, he was just being himself.
He is the life of the party. The happiest guy in the room. The precocious kid who is comfortable and confident and unafraid of the moment.
“He’s got a very unique personality,” Sarkisian said at Monday’s news conference. “He’s got a great sense of humor. From the moment I met him the sense of humor came out of him and I thought, ‘That’s a pretty confident kid.’ “
Sarkisian said the first time he saw Jamora on film he was reminded of former Huskies defensive end Daniel Te’o Nesheim.
“It’s because of the effort that they play with,” Sarkisian said. “The passion that they play with. Hau’oli has unbelievable character. Great kid. Tremendous work ethic. Good student. Tremendous leader, on and off the field. He’s going to be missed in more ways than one — not just rushing the passer, but what he brings on a day-to-day basis.”
Saturday, Jamora, a sophomore defensive end, was robbed of the rest of this season. He tore his ACL in Washington’s victory over California.
Sarkisian said he thought Jamora would qualify for a redshirt year, but even for the healthiest players, football careers are short and game days are golden. This week some of that gold was stolen from Jamora.
“It’s tough. I know how it is. I know how he’s feeling,” said junior safety Justin Glenn, who broke his leg five games into his redshirt freshman year. “It’s going to be rough getting back. Sitting out for that long, like I did, is devastating. Things start to go through your mind that you never really thought of before.”
Doubts creep in about your future. The “what-ifs” torment you.
“What if I’m not as fast? What if I get passed by? What if they forget about me?”
And as much as they root for you and encourage you, your teammates have their jobs to do. Injured players still are part of the team, but also apart from the team.
Players have a saying: “You can’t make the club in the tub.”
“When you’re not getting on film at practice, the coaches aren’t seeing the kind of value you have to put you on the field,” Glenn said. “Injuries are rough, but they’re part of the game, so you have to just deal with it and be strong.”
Washington will replace Jamora by a committee that includes Josh Shirley, Andrew Hudson, Everrette Thompson, Talia Crichton, Sione Patoa’e and Danny Shelton.
But Jamora’s energy and buoyancy are irreplaceable. He will be missed on the field, in the locker room and the meeting rooms.
“He’s a beast,” Thompson said. “He goes. That’s all I can say. Motor man. But off the field, he’s just a goofball. He’s really just kind of off. He always has a smile and a smirk. He’s really just kind of random, a happy-go-lucky guy with a great sense of humor and a great attitude toward life.”
Jamora loves football so much, he hates to leave the field, even in practice. He stays late and works with the younger players. He has such a high-revving motor, it’s hard for him to throttle back.
Two-a-days? In the summer, he’d probably vote for three-a-days.
“Hau’oli, he’s a hard worker, a motor guy,” junior cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “Even if he’s blocked, he’s going to go till the whistle blows. It’s going to be hard to replace a guy like that.
“It’s hard to see a guy get hurt. They’re our brothers out there. We’re a family and when one of your brothers goes down, you’re definitely hurt by it. But it motivates you even more to try to go out and win the game for him.”
Win one for Hau’oli. Restore the laughter and help relieve his pain.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists