On Dec. 17, after wrapping up his fourth season at UW, edge rusher and 2020 All-American Zion Tupuola-Fetui tweeted: “Back home on the islands. Done with school and time to enjoy the holidays with family. For those wondering, I will not be entering the draft this year. Thank you for your patience with these decisions.”
He said he wasn’t entering the draft.
Not that he was necessarily returning to Washington.
To add further angst, “ZTF” also ominously tweeted: “Definitely a bigger decision to be made.”
A little more than a month later, it appears that decision has been made. The Pearl City, Hawaii, native announced on social media Tuesday that he’ll return to UW in 2022.
“Dear Husky Nation, my time at the University of Washington has been a unique experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. The relationships I’ve made in my time will last me the rest of my life.
“After a few weeks getting to know the new coaching staff, this is definitely the place to be. I bleed purple. Let’s go to work.”
Tupuola-Fetui punctuated the tweet with the hashtag: #LastDance.
Husky fans are certainly hoping the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder goes out with a bang. “ZTF” made quite an impact as a breakout outside linebacker in 2020, producing seven sacks and three forced fumbles in just four games — en route to being named a second-team All-American by The Athletic and Walter Camp. His 1.75 sacks per game led the nation as well.
But after tearing his Achilles tendon the following spring, Tupuola-Fetui made a remarkable recovery … yet managed just eight tackles and one sack in five games last fall.
With another offseason of rehab and recovery, “ZTF” will be counted on to return to 2020 form in his fifth and (supposedly) final season in Seattle. He’s joined by a slew of scholarship edge defenders — including senior Jeremiah Martin, sophomores Bralen Trice, Sav’ell Smalls and Jordan Lolohea, redshirt freshman Maurice Heims and true freshman Lance Holtzclaw.
But make no mistake: ZTF is UW’s difference-maker.
Now, he needs to prove he can produce in more than a four-game sample size.
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