Carson Bruener is the latest entry in a bona fide Husky family.
Carson — a 6-foot-2, 205-pound linebacker and 2020 Redmond High School standout — verbally committed to Washington on Friday.
And if his last name sounds familiar, that’s because Carson’s father — Mark Bruener — was a standout tight end at UW as well. The elder Bruener piled up 90 catches for 1,012 yards and four touchdowns from 1991 to 1994 and helped the Huskies secure a national title in his freshman season.
But that’s just the beginning.
“My wife was a University of Washington graduate. Both of my daughters are students there at the University of Washington,” Mark Bruener told The Times in a phone interview on Friday evening. “Our family has been a part of that university since 1991.
“For our son to say that that’s what he would like to do and that’s where he would like to play college football was extremely exhilarating for both my wife and I, and for our entire family.”
It shouldn’t come as a shock, then, that Carson chose UW over scholarship offers from Oregon, Colorado, California, Northwestern, Arizona, Utah, Wisconsin, Washington State and more.
After all, much of his childhood was only spent in one of those stadiums.
“When we moved from Houston back home here to Seattle 10 years ago, Carson was eight years old,” said Mark Bruener, who was selected 27th overall in the 1995 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and went on to spend 14 NFL seasons with the Steelers and Texans. “All of our children have been raised in Husky Stadium every fall.
“Our daughter was a cheerleader these last three years there. So we’ve had numerous reasons to be in that stadium in the fall. Now in a couple years we’re going to have another reason to see our son be a part of that great team.”
But what might Carson contribute? The Husky legacy is ranked by 247Sports as a three-star prospect, the No. 42 inside linebacker in the nation and the No. 12 prospect in the state of Washington in the 2020 class.
Still, his impact may ultimately transcend recruiting rankings.
“He’s the kind of in-state player that you build the foundation of a class on,” said 247Sports national editor Brandon Huffman. “He’s not going to be the sexiest recruit, because that’s not his style. He’ll probably be the first one to tell you that. He’s just kind of a throwback, a workhorse type.
“I think that with (2021 quarterback) Sam Huard committed, with (Bruener committed), it just shows that next generation of Huskies are pretty darn good football players, too.
“I think he’s one of those guys where he comes in and he may not be an immediate contributor, but he’s that solid 3-, 4-, 5-year guy who works his tail off in practice and gets on the field for two or three years and leaves an impression.”
Damon Huard and Mark Bruener certainly left an impression on Montlake.
Now it may be time for their sons to do the same.
“Damon and I were teammates, and we’re still great friends,” Mark Bruener said. “When his son committed quite a while ago, that was extremely exciting news.
“All we need now is for more of our teammates to have kids that want to come and be viable football players and we can get that 1991 team — that national championship team — back here on Montlake with the kids of the players who played back then.”
Though they’re not all UW legacies, Carson becomes the seventh verbal commit in the Huskies’ 2020 class and the second in-state product, joining three-star Brush Prairie athlete Sawyer Racanelli. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t hesitate after finally earning a Washington scholarship offer on Monday — the day after Father’s Day.
How’s that for a present?
“Any time you can have your children be as happy as my son is right now,” Mark Bruener said, “that’s the greatest gift that any father can get.”