Now, the Chris Petersen era begins in earnest at Washington.
On the heels of the Huskies’ best season in 13 years, Petersen assumes day-to-day operations of the football program, his top priority being recruiting for the next five weeks.
Petersen had remained mostly behind the scenes at UW since his Dec. 9 introduction, quietly assembling his coaching staff and trying to stay out of the way during the Huskies’ preparations for the Fight Hunger Bowl.
Some uncertainty remains in the weeks ahead.
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Gone is the greatest tight end in Husky history, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who in the moments after a 31-16 victory over Brigham Young in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Friday night announced his intention to enter the NFL draft, forgoing his senior season.
Bishop Sankey could be right behind him. The junior running back finished the season with a school-record 1,870 yards rushing and shares the UW record with 38 career touchdowns. He said late Friday that he would make a decision on whether to enter the NFL draft “in the next week or so.”
The future of Marques Tuiasosopo also remained up in the air as of Saturday evening. The former star quarterback who guided UW to an 11-1 season, including a Rose Bowl win, during the 2000 season was back in a headlining role this month, stepping up as interim coach in the wake of Steve Sarkisian’s sudden departure for USC on Dec. 2.
“If I get into coaching one day, I want to be that type of coach,” UW senior quarterback Keith Price said of Tuiasosopo. “He’s a competitor. And when you have a competitor who truly believes in you and invested so much into this program, it makes it easier for me to play for a guy like that.”
Tuiasosopo, UW’s quarterbacks coach this season, has been offered the job as tight ends coach on Petersen’s staff, a source said. Tuiasosopo is believed to have at least one other offer from a Pac-12 school, and he is expected make a decision in the next few days.
“I can’t say enough about these guys, I can’t say enough about the coaching staff. We’ve had a fun two weeks,” Tuiasosopo said late Friday at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.
The victory over BYU gave the Huskies a 9-4 finish, the most wins for the program since Tuiasosopo’s senior season.
“It’s amazing,” Price said. “I think it means a lot to the program; it means a lot to the players. It’s a certain expectation that we set.”
Neither Price nor Sankey was able to finish the game Friday night. Sankey injured his hand when a lineman fell on it, and he didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
Price took a hit to the midsection late in the third quarter, threw an interception on the next series and went to the locker room for X-rays on his ribs shortly after that. (Price had also taken a helmet-to-helmet hit from BYU’s Bronson Kaufusi on the play that resulted in the interception; ESPN’s broadcasters believed Kaufusi should’ve been ejected.)
It’s unclear how the rib injury will affect Price’s scheduled appearance in the East-West Shrine Game next month.
“I’ve felt pain tons of times in my career, so I thought I’d just be able to battle it out,” said Price, UW’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, with 75. “Usually I’m able to play through it. So we went in (before the fourth quarter) and numbed it up, and I could still feel it. It’s unfortunate, but the victory kind of makes it feel a little bit better.”
The bar has indeed been raised for Petersen, who is expected to make a formal announcement of his coaching staff soon. At least seven of his former assistants at Boise State are expected to join him at UW.
UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox has had a standing offer to join Sarkisian at USC in the same role. Oregon is believed to be making a late run at Wilcox, an Oregon alumnus, after the Ducks’ longtime defensive coordinator, Nick Aliotti, announced his retirement Friday.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @a_jude