Defensive back Austin Joyner, who recorded 56 tackles in three seasons, suffered from too many concussions. Pulu, who played in 10 games last season, has a kidney condition.
This was not news Washington football coach Chris Petersen wanted to announce: Junior defensive back Austin Joyner and junior defensive lineman Jared Pulu are retiring from football because of medical issues.
Joyner was forced to retire because of concussions, Petersen said Thursday, and Pulu has a kidney condition.
“Those are hard things, but they are in great care right now,” Petersen said. “They will stay with us and always be part of us.”
Joyner, a Marysville native who missed the past two games, recorded 56 tackles in three seasons, including 40 in 2017. He played in four games this season and was named the UW coaches’ special-teams player of the game against North Dakota, Petersen said
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“The thing that is good about this situation, is this probably would have never happened eight years ago,” Petersen said, talking about the change in attitude toward head injuries. “Guys get concussions and you go. You heal up and you go. But I think everybody is just on top of this, and it’s, ‘How many has he had? How serious is this?'” And everybody is hypersensitive to this, which I think is a good thing.”
Petersen said Joyner “has had a couple (concussions) since he has been here, and this was our doctor saying this was what had to happen.”
Joyner was The Seattle Times’ 2014 state high school football player of the year for Marysville-Pilchuck, where he rushed for 5,593 yards and was also a star cornerback. But Joyner told The Seattle Times during the recruiting process that he wanted to play defense in college.
“The injury rate for running backs is higher than any other position,” said Joyner, who missed practically his entire freshman season at UW after injuring his knee on the kickoff of the season opener. “I want to have a healthy life outside of football.”
Petersen said Joyner will still be active with the team.
“We would like him to do more than just hang around,” he said. “When those guys retire, we still honor their scholarship, and we want them involved somehow, whether it’s in the athletic department, or with us, or whatever their interests lie. So they will always be with us.”
Pulu, a Federal Way native, had eight tackles in two seasons with the Huskies. He had not played in 2018 and played in 10 games last season. Pulu, 6 feet 4 and 281 pounds, came to Washington as a walk-on. He was awarded a scholarship before this season.
“It’s tough, with all the hard work he has put in,” Petersen said of Pulu. “And he was really going to be a contributor for us on that D-line, which is a hard place for us to find guys. But the good thing is, he is close to getting graduated. We’ve still got him until he gets graduated. He’ll get that done and that’s the primary reason these guys are here.
“He’s got a great attitude and he’s helping us out with coaching and those types of things.”
In high school in 2014, Pulu nearly died after suffering an allergic reaction to anesthetic during surgery to repair a torn labrum.
“This is rare thing he has had for a long time, and it has to do with his kidneys,” Petersen said.
Linebacker Beavers making progress
Petersen said junior linebacker DJ Beavers, who started the season opener against Auburn but has been sidelined since with an undisclosed injury, is expected to return at some point this season.
“We still think we’re getting him back, but it’s been a little bit longer than week to week,” Petersen said. “We’re kind of on week to week now. But we didn’t think it would take this long to heal him up. We’re hopeful to get him back soon.”
Beavers had eight tackles against Auburn. He played in just five games last season because of injuries.