Mitchell Agude didn’t need to be introduced to Kalen DeBoer.

He saw him, clear as day, from the opposite sideline.

On Sept. 18, DeBoer’s Fresno State Bulldogs produced a 40-37 upset of No. 13 UCLA inside the Rose Bowl — with former UW quarterback Jake Haener hitting wide receiver Jalen Cropper for the go-ahead 13-yard score with 14 seconds remaining. Fresno State amassed 569 total yards in the win, and Haener threw for 455 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Agude managed three total tackles.

Nearly six months later, Agude — a second-team All-Pac-12 outside linebacker for the Bruins — said the result was “definitely shocking.”

So much so, in fact, that it might help the Huskies land one of the country’s most coveted transfers.

“Knowing the caliber of players we had, and them beating us, that’s what really stood out (initially about UW),” said Agude, who took an official visit to Washington last weekend after entering the transfer portal in February. “I’m thinking, ‘OK, how did they beat us in that situation?’ I was looking at coach DeBoer’s steps and how he flips programs around and that really interested me.”

Agude’s interest was also piqued by the potential to play opposite of UW EDGE Zion Tupuola-Fetui — who, along with DeBoer, first contacted Agude, then served as his host on an official visit last weekend.

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“It’s a really good opportunity with two really high caliber EDGEs to play on the same field, so I wanted to pursue that,” Agude said. “It was dope. (ZTF) was my host, so the whole time I was really with him. We connected a lot. He’s a really cool guy.”

When asked what else stood out, Agude added: “Really, the people. Coach DeBoer and just everyone out there had a genuine love for football and love for people, just a servant attitude. They want to serve each other, and I think that’s one thing that stuck with me.”

Of course, it’s fun for Husky fans to envision Tupuola-Fetui (who produced seven sacks in four games in 2020, before tearing his Achilles tendon last spring) and Agude (who finished with 54 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, three pass breakups, two sacks and one fumble recovery in 12 games and 10 starts last fall) meeting at the quarterback on Montlake.

But among his four finalists, where does Washington stand?

After kicking off his recruiting tour in Seattle, Agude — who has one season of eligibility remaining — intends to visit Oregon, Tennessee and Miami in the next several weeks, before making a decision shortly thereafter.

As for separating factors between his finalists, Agude is prioritizing the ability to play more of a pure defensive end position — after operating as an outside linebacker at UCLA. He also downplayed the role of name, image and likeness benefits in his final decision.

“At the end of the day, football’s the main thing. I want to keep the main thing, the main thing,” Agude said. “So I think at the end of the day, it’s whatever team is going to push me and allow me to be the best version of myself, so I can make that money (in the NFL). The NIL money is nice right now, but I’m looking for generational wealth. So it’s wherever is going to help me get to that level.”

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UW could ultimately be that destination — especially considering Agude’s seemingly direct path to playing time. The Huskies managed just 7.5 combined sacks from their outside linebackers last season, and starters Ryan Bowman (graduation) and Cooper McDonald (transfer) have since departed. Outside of Tupuola-Fetui, UW’s six other scholarship EDGEs — senior Jeremiah Martin, sophomores Bralen Trice, Sav’ell Smalls and Jordan Lolohea, redshirt freshman Maurice Heims and true freshman Lance Holtzclaw — have combined for just three career sacks.

As a unit, UW’s defense finished 109th nationally in rushing defense (194 yards allowed per game), 105th in opponent yards per carry (4.76), 98th in sacks per game (1.67) and 91st in tackles for loss per game (5.17) in 2021.

On paper, UW’s interest in Agude is easy to understand.

On paper, Fresno State should never have upset UCLA … which is one reason why Agude may land at Washington.

“(The Fresno State-UCLA game) changes things a lot,” he said. “No disrespect to (Fresno State’s) players, but I feel like at UCLA we had more impact players and more high-caliber players. For them to utilize all their players at the perfect position and utilize all their players the right way, in the right scheme, they just know what they’re doing. That’s a big factor.”

Extra point

  • The Pac-12 announced Monday that UW’s games this fall at UCLA on Sept. 30 and at home against Oregon State on Nov. 4 have been moved from Saturday to Friday. Though those will undoubtedly be night games, specific start times have yet to be set.