With Bright On Board, a look at the UW Inside Backers

The University of Washington didn’t have enough linebackers and Pittsburgh had too many. So it shouldn’t have been such a big surprise that someone came to Seattle.

Former Panther Cam Bright used the transfer portal to find his way to Kalen DeBoer’s Huskies, creating a slightly underpowered position suddenly feeling satiated.

The 6-foot, 220-pound eldest from Montgomery, Alabama brings strong credentials to Montlake as a 20-game career starter and someone who had to learn to share.

Last season, Bright split his time with John Petrishen. For the Panthers 11-3 and Peach Bowl, Bright tied 8 game-opening assignments, Petrishen 6. Bright returned a 26-yard fumble for a score against Michigan State, Petrishen a 33-yard interception for a touchdown against Georgia Tech. Bright was captain of Team Pitt, Petrishen All-ACC honorable mention.

Still, the newcomer won’t find the linebacking battle any less competitive in Montlake. To earn one of the interior No. 1 spots, Bright will primarily push for playing time against junior Edefuan Ulofoshio and second Carson Bruener, both battle-tested and very good at second overall.

Imagine if Ulofoshio was somehow the odd man out. More likely, Bright and Bruener are fighting for the spot across from him. But you never know until they’re after it.

“This thought of a fresh start has been floating around in my head for weeks now, and after much prayer, I have decided to use my last year of eligibility to find a new home and conquer new heights,” said writes Bright in a social media post. .

With just over two months to go until spring football, we’re looking at all of the inside linebacker candidates, giving Bright a better idea of ​​what he’s up against, as well as what he’s delivering.

Edefuan Ulofoshio returns a fumble against Stanford.

Edefuan Ulofoshio

One of the reasons this last Husky team went to the tank last season was the loss of the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Ulofoshio in Game 6 to UCLA following an arm injury that required surgical intervention. You pay it when such a good guy sits down. He entered the year as a returning second-team All-Pac-12 selection and mentioned as one of the nation’s elite linebackers. He has 147 career tackles to his credit. He played 29 games, starting 12. As a redshirt rookie in 2019, he came off the bench at Oregon State and had 9 tackles, including a sack and a half, and was named Pac Defensive Player. -12 of the week. . That alone could have earned him a late scholarship. Showing how truly dominant he can be, the Las Vegas product racked up 18 tackles against Stanford in 2020 and 16 at Oregon State last October. He had a 39-yard fumble return against the Cardinal before they caught him. No other linebacker nationally, anywhere in the world can top that claim: Ulofoshio’s name, in Nigerian, translates to “Fearless of War.”

Carson Bruener had 16 tackles against Stanford.

Carson Bruener had 16 tackles at Stanford in his first career start.

Carson Bruener

When Ulofoshio fell, Bruener took over. The Huskies would have much preferred to play these guys side by side. With Jackson Sirmon moving to California, that possibility remains, though Bright comes to UW determined to play a lot, not watch. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound sophomore and Seattle-area native has great bloodlines as the son of Mark Bruener, a tight end for the UW National Championship team and a 14-year NFL veteran. Young Bruener has 11 career games under his belt, 6 starts. He scored 70 tackles. He came on with a 50-yard interception return against Oregon and looked elusive in the open field before being tackled. Here’s how good he can be: In his first Husky start, Bruener had 16 tackles at Stanford, including a sack and a half, forced a fumble and was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.

Bright camera

He played four full seasons for Pittsburgh, appearing in 52 games and making 17 of 20 starts over the past two years. He has racked up 182 career tackles, including 20.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. At all times, he was a big-game guy. In 2019, Bright went for 79 yards on a fumble against Georgia Tech before being taken down, providing the longest fumble return for the Panthers in 18 seasons. In 2020, he caught 10 tackles, including 2 TFLs and a half sack, and forced a fumble against Syracuse, earning him ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Last season, he recorded a career-best 12 tackles against Western Michigan. In his final Pitt game at the Peach Bowl, the Alabaman native memorably returned that Michigan State fumble for a score, providing one of five defensive touchdowns for the Panthers last season.

Daniel Heimuli is dying after a loss to Colorado.

Daniel Heimuli shows his desperation following a loss to Colorado.

Daniel Heimuli

This guy was a much more highly regarded recruit than Ulofoshio, Bruener and even Bright at Pitt, a 4-star prospect who chose UW over Alabama and Oregon. Now a 6-foot, 225-pound sophomore, the California native has played in a dozen career games. He started last season against Arkansas State and Arizona when Ulofoshio got knocked out and Bruener wasn’t quite ready for the first team. The California native has 20 career tackles, including 8 against Arizona. He’s worked his way up where he can start if needed, but he’s not yet in a position to beat the others for a stable #1 position. It’s time for him to match his credentials and become a more successful candidate. serious.

Ruperake Fuavia, Alphonzo Tuputala and starting Josh Calvert head into spring training.

Ruperake Fuavai, Alphonzo Tuputala and the late Josh Calvert are heading to spring training.

Alfonzo Tuputala

A 6-foot-2, 230-pound sophomore, Tuputala is the darkhorse player in this group. Big and fast, he gained playing time right away when he joined the program, edging out Heimuli and the late Josh Calvert (Utah) in the rotation. Unfortunately for him, Tuputala tore his Achilles tendon last spring, had surgery and only played the last five games last fall. The Seattle-area product has appeared in 13 career outings and has 7 tackles, 5 last season. He could start before he’s finished. In any case, he will play a lot.

Ruperake Fuavai

He went from the great unknown, a regular extra playing on special teams, to the ignition point when shooting Jimmy Lake. Arguing on the sidelines with an Oregon player he claimed to have spat on him, Fuavai got shoved by his annoyed coach, an action not advised seen by many watching on national television and leading to the termination of Lake. A Seattle-area product, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound sophomore was reportedly embarrassed by his sudden stardom, but carried on after his coach left. Fuavai has appeared in seven games and will be back for more.

Drew Fowler

Another special team player without any Fuavai notoriety, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound second played in eight games last season and played in a dozen overall during his career. From suburban Seattle, Fowler reportedly turned down scholarship offers from UCLA and a host of other schools to try his luck at earning a full round from the Huskies. He will now have to convince a new UW coaching staff that he is worthy. It remains a bit undersized.

DeMario King

This 6-foot-3, 215-pound transfer from Cerritos College might have a chance here, but DeBoer’s staff are more likely to use him in a hybrid safety/linebacker position that serves as the fifth guy in the secondary. He had 96 tackles in two JC seasons. Likewise, he needs an extra 20 pounds to buy time at inside linebacker.

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