SEATTLE — You might have seen videos of Kyler Gordon’s backflips at practice.
Gordon’s athleticism is well-documented. At the Husky Combine after his freshman season, the Washington defensive back finished first on the team in the vertical jump (42.5 inches), second in the 3-cone drill (6.52 seconds) and second in the pro agility drill (3.87 seconds). There’s a reason his coaches and teammates call him the most athletic player on the team.
That athleticism has served Gordon well on defense. It’s also made the Archbishop Murphy alum a dominant force on special teams, where it often seems there has to be more than one of him because he’s just everywhere. There’s a reason his teammates voted him the special teams player of the year in 2019. Take the Huskies’ victory 44-27 victory over Arizona when three of Gordon’s seven tackles came on special teams. He also downed two Race Porter punts inside the 5-yard line.
“He shows up all over the field — whether he’s holding up guys on our return units or he’s covering on our cover units and making big-time plays, which you guys have already seen him do, especially two weeks ago against the University of Arizona,” UW head coach Jimmy Lake said this week.
“He had some really big-time hits and tackles that really gave a huge energy boost to our team. You know, he’s just such a fantastic athlete. He’s fast. He can move side-to-side. He’s athletic. I’ve been quoted, I’ve said it: he’s one of the more athletic defensive backs that we’ve had around here. He’s just electrifying.”
Gordon’s role on special teams could be expanding soon. Lake said he’s looking for ways to get in the ball in his hands in the return game. Gordon is listed alongside Sean McGrew as UW’s kick returner, but he hasn’t yet gotten an opportunity.
“He can do a lot for this team,” Lake said. “We’ve just got to make sure he’s always around the ball or with the ball in his hands so he can make a big impact.”
Gordon started the first four games of the 2019 season at cornerback before he was replaced by then-freshman Trent McDuffie, who quickly became one of the top defensive backs in the Pac-12. Gordon used the experience as a lesson, focusing on studying and correcting his weaknesses during the extended offseason.
“I was really detailed on how I can correct myself in order to make a difference and a bigger impact (this year),” Gordon said.
Gordon finished with 26 tackles, four pass breakups and a fumble recovery in 2019. Through three games this season, he has nine tackles and a forced fumble.
His impact hasn’t been limited to special teams, either. Gordon was a key figure defensively during UW’s comeback win over Utah last week and played most of the second half at cornerback. He finished with two tackles, one of them for loss. He also forced a crucial fumble when Utah entered the red zone in the fourth quarter. Zion Tupuola-Fetui then scooped up the ball and returned it 29 yards.
While Gordon admitted becoming a defensive starter again is an individual goal, he stressed the importance of putting the team first. That’s why he embraces any chance to get on the field.
“I just wanted to take every opportunity I got, use it to my fullest,” Gordon said. “If I wasn’t able to make that on defense then I was going to do it on special teams. I just give it my all on every single special teams (play) I can get on to make a difference in special teams and in the game.”