By Christian Caple The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Two of Washington’s most important offensive players returned to practice on Saturday morning.
They had good reason for playing hooky on Friday. Junior running back Bishop Sankey and junior tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins both attended Thursday night’s Home Depot College Football Awards in Orlando, Fla. — Seferian-Jenkins won the Mackey Award (the best tight end in college football), and Sankey was a finalist for the Doak Walker (best running back) — and returned home shortly before noon on Friday.
“It was fun. It was good to hang out with Bishop,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “His family and my family got to hang out and meet a lot of great athletes across the country, as well as analysts.”
Winning the Mackey was probably OK, too, though Seferian-Jenkins deflected some of the credit for that toward Sankey, who he said made his blocking efforts much easier this season.
It may have been those blocking efforts that helped earned Seferian-Jenkins the award after he caught 33 passes for 433 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He spoke often this year of becoming a more well-rounded player.
“I think there’s some validation, but it helps when you have a Doak Walker finalist and one of the best running backs ever, if not the best running back to ever come through the University of Washington behind you,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “So he makes me look really good and I appreciate the way he runs the ball.”
Sankey laughed when asked if he was bummed out about getting snubbed by the ESPN television broadcast, which accidentally showed a different player on screen above a graphic with Sankey’s name on it.
The mistake made a slight ripple on Twitter, and Sankey said he got a few text messages about it, but otherwise laughed it off.
“It was an honor to be there, a real humbling experience,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without my team, honestly. This whole year they’ve just been surrounding me and supporting me. It was just a cool deal around.”
Both Sankey and Seferian-Jenkins will have an NFL decision to make after the Huskies play against BYU in the Dec. 27 Fight Hunger Bowl. They’ve both submitted the necessary paperwork to the NFL Draft college advisory committee, and are awaiting feedback on their NFL value.
Sankey said it’s not something he’s thinking about much right now. He said the departure of Steve Sarkisian — and the hire of new coach Chris Petersen — won’t have much of an impact on his decision to stay or go.
“I’m just trying to take the process as slow as possible,” Sankey said. “Talk with coach Petersen some more, and the rest of the new coaches coming in. Also talk it over with my family and at the end of the day, make the best decision.”
Keith Price, UW’s fifth-year senior QB, won’t play a game for Petersen, but he’s impressed with the new coach.
“Coach Pete, man, he’s a great guy,” Price said. “I’ve seen his track record. Numbers don’t lie, man. No matter how you slice it, numbers don’t lie. He’s one of the best head coaches in the country. It’s proven.
“I chatted with him a little today, I chatted with him a little yesterday. He’s a great guy, a great motivational speaker and you could tell he’s loose.”