First, Andrew Hudson disappeared from the Huskies’ depth chart. Then, at the urging of Washington’s previous coaching staff, he disappeared from the team entirely.
That, ultimately, wasn’t the real end for the veteran defensive end.
After saying goodbye to UW fans during the Huskies’ home finale last season, Hudson is back on UW’s first line of defense and determined to forget his forgettable 2013 season.
“It’s great having this second chance,” said Hudson, a fifth-year senior from Redlands, Calif. “I think I can better appreciate it now.”
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As a sophomore two years ago, Hudson was named UW’s top defensive lineman. He tied for the team lead with 6½ sacks and was an honorable-mention All-Pac-12 Conference selection.
He expected even more as a junior last season, but he lost his starting spot in fall camp, admitting later he might have gotten complacent.
As he continued to plummet down the depth chart, he voluntarily spent time on the scout team, if only so he wasn’t standing around, buried and bored.
He would finish the season with just two tackles, the same total as kicker Travis Coons. In UW’s final four games, Hudson made only one appearance — in mop-up duty of the Huskies’ blowout victory at Oregon State in late November. It was, he said, a humbling time.
By that point, Hudson said “the situation was brought to my attention” by the then-UW coaching staff. He was urged to leave the program after the season, and so before the Apple Cup at Husky Stadium he was introduced with UW’s senior class during a ceremony. A “sudden senior,” some have labeled such players.
“Some guys are bitter and they’re like, ‘Forget that, I’m staying.’ But if someone’s telling you to leave — or telling you it’s probably in your best interest (to leave) — do you stay?” Hudson said earlier this year. “For me, it was worth it. And at the end of the day, I would’ve been fine with that decision. But, again, I’m just thankful things happened the way it did.”
Receiver DiAndre Campbell, in a similar situation as Hudson, also was welcomed back in the spring by UW’s new coaching staff and he, too, has earned his way back on the depth chart.
“There’s few times when you get a chance to do something over and … this is the time to prove it,” Hudson said.
Hudson has been a regular with the first-string defense since the spring, and he’s the projected starter at right end for Washington’s season opener at Hawaii on Aug. 30.
“I’m there — and I’m keeping it,” he said.
Washington’s new defensive line coach, Jeff Choate, said Hudson was singled out by the strength and conditioning staff as the one player who had the best summer in the new weight-training program.
“One of the things I remember him telling me last spring was that he felt like he got a little discouraged and it was a little bit of a wasted year,” said Choate, who praised Hudson for his mastery of a lineman’s techniques and his grasp of schemes.
“There’s no mystery as to why he’s performing at a high level right now — he put the work in during the offseason,” Choate added. “He understands this is his last opportunity to go play, and he wants to make sure that he has great memories and gave everything he had.”
Hudson’s productive summer extended beyond football.
He was one of just five football players selected by the Pac-12 to receive a $3,000 postgraduate scholarship, and he was one of about 10 UW players selected for a 10-day study-abroad program in Tahiti.
“It was such an experience going there, learning about the culture,” Hudson said. “And being there with my teammates was the best part of it.”
His confidence restored, his place on the depth chart reinstated, Hudson is glad to again be with his linemates on the field. He’s glad, too, to have the chance to write a new ending to his UW career.