By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Will Mahan was off to a fine start during his senior season at the University of Washington.
The punter and former junior-college transfer will have to finish it up next fall.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Wednesday that Mahan is out for the season after suffering tears in his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments of his left knee. The school plans to apply for a medical redshirt, which would give Mahan one more year of eligibility.
“It’s unfortunate,” Sarkisian said Wednesday, one day after a UW player rolled into Mahan’s plant foot to cause what the coach originally diagnosed as a sprained knee. “It was a routine drill, a drill we do every day, and it was actually the last punt of the day for him. Kind of a freak accident.”
Mahan averaged 45.2 yards per punt on six attempts in Saturday’s loss to Brigham Young, including a 64-yarder. After transferring from junior college, he ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in gross average (40.6) last fall.
The only other punter on UW’s roster is junior Kiel Rasp, a walk-on from Seattle who has yet to kick in a game. Rasp actually quit the team after last season — special teams coach Johnny Nansen said it was to concentrate on his schoolwork — but was brought back in mid-August because freshman walk-on Sean Halligan was leaving the team.
Rasp was one of several players who were not made available to the media on Wednesday, but both Nansen and Sarkisian expressed confidence in his ability to handle the task against Syracuse on Saturday.
“He’s got a great leg, and he’s been terrific all training camp,” Sarkisian said. “The key is to go into a game, catch a ball and punt it, which he’s never had to do.
“Sooner or later, we all have to go out there and experience, and go do it. He’s given us all the confidence that he can do that. If we didn’t think so, we’d have somebody else doing it.”
Sarkisian added that the Huskies have a “contingency plan,” should things not work out with Rasp, but the coach would not expand on that.
“We’ll kind of keep that in our back pocket,” Sarkisian said when asked what other options the Huskies have besides Rasp. “It’s not a kicker. We might have a little something.”