The defensive end is lighter, leaner and eager to make the most of his final season in the Washington program.

When De’Shon Matthews looks around the field, dreadlocks peeking out the back of his helmet, he can’t help but wonder where the time went.

“You don’t really notice it until the end, and it’s kind of crazy,” said Matthews, a 6-foot-4, 253-pound defensive end.

Back when Matthews was a highly touted recruit out of Laguna Creek High School in Sacramento, Calif., older players in the University of Washington program would tell him about how quickly the years pass.

Now that he’s one of those older players, the senior is doing everything he can to make the most of his final season of college football.

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“It’s just crazy how fast you develop and become a man,” Matthews said. “I want to make sure I have as much fun as possible.”

His energy and enthusiasm have caught the coaching staff’s attention.

“High motor,” coach Steve Sarkisian said. “He looks more explosive. He’s playing faster. That’s the biggest thing that impresses me. He just looks like a faster, more explosive guy right now.”

A few years ago, Tyrone Willingham’s staff asked Matthews to put on weight and work more as a defensive tackle. Matthews said he weighed as much as 275 pounds. He did what he was asked because he wanted to play, but never felt comfortable carrying that weight.

“I wasn’t quite the same,” Matthews said. “I lost some of my agility a little bit. I’m at a better playing weight now. I feel more comfortable at this position as well.”

Now lighter and leaner, Matthews said he’s willing to do whatever he has to in order to help the Huskies get to a bowl game.

“I feel like one thing I haven’t done yet is go to the Rose Bowl or any bowl games,” he said. “That’s my main goal, my main focus, is to get to the bowl game, get to the Rose Bowl, because this is my last chance.

“This may be my last time playing football. I don’t know yet, but just in case, I just want to make sure I go out and do my all, put everything I can into it.”

Price all smiles

For any player, the growth between their first and second seasons is, as Sarkisian puts it, “huge.”

The Huskies coach said redshirt freshman quarterback Keith Price’s development and grasp of the offense are right on schedule.

“He really likes to have fun playing football,” Sarkisian said. “I think before, he was so uptight because he was trying to understand and learn that he didn’t allow himself to relax and have fun playing. Now I’m seeing a guy smiling, having fun playing football, and for me, that gives me a lot of confidence.”

Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or