Wooching led the Huskies with 6.0 sacks in 2016.
It wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school in Hawaii that Psalm Wooching started playing football. A standout rugby player, Wooching before then considered football “a girly sport.”
But he grew to love football, too, earning a scholarship to the University Washington — initially as a running back — and then blossoming this past season as a senior outside linebacker on the Pac-12’s top-ranked defense.
On Thursday, Wooching announced he won’t pursue the NFL but will instead return to rugby, his “first love.” His goal, he says, is to play in the Olympics.
“It is time for me to follow my heart,” he wrote on Twitter. ” … This has been a dream of mine for quite some time and I will do anything to accomplish it.”
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Wooching led the Huskies with 6.0 sacks in 2016, with 42 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He was named an honorable-mention all-Pac-12 selection. In September, he was named the Walter Camp national player of the week when he had three sacks in the Huskies’ victory over No. 7 Stanford.
Had he stuck with football, he was considered a late-round NFL draft prospect or an undrafted free agent.
In high school, Wooching played for the U.S. rugby junior national team, and in 2014 he helped UW’s club rugby team win a national championship.
Wooching is passionate about his Samoan roots. He was 5 years old when his father, Luki — who runs a luau at a hotel on the Big Island — taught him a traditional Samoan fire dance, which Wooching performed for a Seattle Times photo shoot in 2014.
In November, Wooching made a surprise proposal to his girlfriend, UW softball player Courtney Gano, after a football practice inside Husky Stadium. They plan to marry later this year.