By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
SEATTLE — People in the Pac-12 know how exactly how good of a tight Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been for the Washington Huskies this season. But it appears the rest of the country is beginning to take notice.
Seferian-Jenkins was named as one of three finalists for the 2012 John Mackey Award — given annually to the best tight end in college football.
Joining Seferian-Jenkins are seniors Zach Ertz of Stanford and Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame.
“I think he’s had a great year,” Sarkisian said. “I don’t know exactly where his numbers are in comparison to the rest of the guys. I know the impact he’s had on us offensively has been huge. Of our three real go-to-guys — Austin, Kasen (Williams) and Bishop (Sankey) — Austin has had a huge role for us. He’s made some tremendous plays for us, big plays for us. I think his willingness to improve in the blocking game is evident. We are seeing him doing a better job of that as well.”
Seferian-Jenkins has 58 catches for 753 yards and five touchdowns this season. The 58 catches are single-season school record for a tight end. He also holds the school record for career receptions (99), career receiving yards (1,289), career touchdown catches (11) for a tight end.
Ertz, who is Stanford’s top pass catching threat and projected as one of the first tight ends to be taken in the NFL draft this season, also has 58 catches going for 747 yards and six touchdowns. Eifert leads Notre Dame with 40 receptions for 555 yards and four touchdowns.
Seferian-Jenkins can also add about 30 snaps at defensive end, including a fumble recovery to his resume, which also includes a varsity letter as a basketball player last season.
“His willingness to do what’s best for the team by going over and playing on defense in some obvious passing downs and recovering a fumble in last week’s ball game, I think speaks volumes for the type of individual he is,” Sarkisian said. “
When Sarkisian met with the media, the announcement of the finalists for the award hadn’t been announced yet. But it was clear how the Husky head coach felt.
“If there are three better tight ends in this country better than Austin, then I’d like to see them,” he said. “I know there’s some pretty good ones in our conference, but I’d put 88 right up with them all.”
Trufant’s status uncertain
Desmond Trufant’s status for Friday’s Apple Cup is very uncertain. A sore hamstring kept the senior cornerback in street clothes in Saturday’s win over Colorado. After the game, Sarkisian said the move was precautionary in the hope of getting him 100 percent healthy for Friday’s Apple Cup. Sarkisian seemed confident that Trufant would be ready to play against the pass-happy Cougars. However on Monday, Sarkisian wasn’t quite as optimistic. “We’re hopeful,” Sarkisian said. “He has not been cleared to play yet, but we’re hopeful we get him back.
While junior Greg Ducre started and played well in Trufant’s place, not having one of the best defensive backs in the Pac-12 would be an issue. Sarkisian credited Trufant as a major reason why Washington’s pass defense ranks in the top 10 in the country.
“I think Tru has been a big part of that,” Sarkisian said. “I know he didn’t play last week versus Colorado, but Desmond has been such a great leader back there. We’ve put him on so many islands against some really good players that has allowed us to roll coverages in different directions.”
While Washington State has struggled offensively, the Cougars still have attempted 571 passes this season — 171 more than the next closest team.
Sarkisian said that true freshman Shane Brostek will continue to work at defensive tackle after being recruited and starting a game as an offensive linemen. As for Brostek’s future, Sarkisian said they would wait until the end of the season to assess the situation further. … The Huskies will practice in the morning on Thanksgiving, and then put on dress clothes —– a recent trend — and have a traditional dinner in the UW founders club before catching a charter flight to Pullman. … Friday’s game will have a national TV audience on Fox. Craig Bolerjack (play by play), Joel Klatt (color) and Petros Padapakis (sidelines) will be on the broadcast.