Washington’s Austin Joyner intercepts a pass in the second half of the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 30, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Washington’s Austin Joyner intercepts a pass in the second half of the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 30, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Marysville star Joyner departs Huskies due to concussions

The Marysville Pilchuck graduate recorded 56 tackles in 3 seasons as a UW defensive back.

  • Friday, October 12, 2018 8:59am
  • Sports

Staff and wire reports

This was not news Washington football coach Chris Petersen wanted to announce: Junior defensive back Austin Joyner and junior defensive lineman Jared Pulu are retiring from football because of medical issues.

Joyner, was forced to retire because of concussions, Petersen said Thursday, and Pulu has a kidney condition.

“Those are hard things, but they are in great care right now,” Petersen said. “They will stay with us and always be part of us.”

Joyner, a Marysville Pilchuck graduate who missed the past two games, recorded 56 tackles in three seasons, including 40 in 2017. He played in four games this season and was named the UW coaches’ special-teams player of the game against North Dakota, Petersen said.

“The thing that is good about this situation is this probably would have never happened eight years ago,” Petersen said, talking about the change in attitude toward head injuries. “Guys get concussions and you go. You heal up and you go. But I think everybody is just on top of this, and it’s, ‘How many has he had? How serious is this?’” Everybody is hypersensitive to this, which I think is a good thing.”

Petersen said Joyner “has had a couple (concussions) since he has been here, and this was our doctor saying this was what had to happen.”

Joyner was the Herald’s Offensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons while at Marysville Pilchuck, rushing for 1,768 yards and 32 touchdowns on 133 carries as a senior. He also earned Gatorade Washington Player of the Year honors following his 2014 senior campaign and amassed 5,593 rushing yards in his prep career.

“It’s disheartening to begin with,” said Marysville Pilchuck coach Brandon Carson, who coached Joyner. “I know how much time and effort he has put in. It was his dream to play in the NFL, but at the end of the day your health is more important. The average NFL career is less than three years, and it really makes you think. You don’t want to mess with your brain.”

Joyner told the Herald on the eve of his senior season that he would play only on defense after high school.

“It came down to career-wise, you have a much longer career at corner than you do at running back,” he said. “I want to be healthy and be able to walk and hang out with my kids when I’m older.”

Joyner also missed virtually all of his freshman season at UW after injuring his knee on the opening kickoff in the first game of the campaign.

Petersen said Joyner will still be active with the team.

“We would like him to do more than just hang around,” he said. “When those guys retire, we still honor their scholarship, and we want them involved somehow, whether it’s in the athletic department, or with us, or whatever their interests lie. They will always be with us.”

Carson, who regularly speaks with Joyner, heard last week the unfortunate news was coming. He remembers the unbelievable athleticism and jaw-dropping plays but also Joyner’s character.

“After the game walking off the field — he was a big-time player — and there were always a bunch of kids at the gate wanting him to sign their footballs,” Carson explained. “He’d get down on his knee and ask every kid their name. He could of just signed their footballs, but he took the time to ask them their names, and that epitomizes the type of kid he was.

”It was really fun to coach him. It was fun to watch him on Saturdays on TV. You don’t have many players like that. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime player, and it was pleasure to coach him and watch him play for a football program like the Huskies. He had a great career, and now it’s time to get to post-football life.”

Pulu, a Federal Way native, had eight tackles in two seasons with the Huskies. He had not played in 2018 and played in 10 games last season. Pulu, 6-foot-4 and 281 pounds, came to Washington as a walk-on. He was awarded a scholarship before this season.

“It’s tough, with all the hard work he has put in,” Petersen said. “He was really going to be a contributor for us on that D-line, which is a hard place for us to find guys. The good thing is he is close to getting graduated. We’ve still got him until he gets graduated. He’ll get that done, and that’s the primary reason these guys are here.

“He’s got a great attitude, and he’s helping us out with coaching and those types of things.”

In high school in 2014, Pulu nearly died after suffering an allergic reaction to anesthetic during surgery to repair a torn labrum.

“This is rare thing he has had for a long time, and it has to do with his kidneys,” Petersen said.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) is sacked by Benson Mayowa (95), Jarran Reed (90) and Carlos Dunlap (43) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Philadelphia. The Seahawks defeated the Eagles (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Seahawks’ improving defense should strike fear into NFC foes

No, it’s not the old Legion of Boom, but even with an average defense Seattle could be formidable.

New York Giants linebacker Devante Downs (52) during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)
How local NFL products fared in Week 12

Players from Snohomsish County didn’t see a lot of action as the season hits the three-quarter mark.

Seattle Sounders' Shane O'Neill reacts after scoring against FC Dallas during the second half of an MLS playoff soccer match Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sounders beat FC Dallas, advance to Western Conference final

Shane O’Neill scores on a header early in the second half and Seattle hangs on for a 1-0 win.

Sluggish Huskies fall to 0-2 with loss to UC Riverside

UW gets out-rebounded 49-33 and shoots just 29.6% from the field in a 57-42 defeat.

Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz (11) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks' Carlos Dunlap (43), Jarran Reed (90) and Benson Mayowa (95) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
Grading the Seahawks in their 23-17 victory over the Eagles

For the second straight week Seattle’s much-maligned defense earns good marks.

Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) passes to a teammate against Auburn last Friday at the Fort Myers Tip-Off in Fort Myers, Florida. (Chris Tilley/Fort Myers Tip-Off via McClatchy News Service)
POLL: Should the Gonzaga-Auburn hoops game have been played?

The men’s basketball contest went forward despite a Gonzaga player testing positive for COVID-19.

Alphas defensive back Austin Joyner (44), a Marysville Pilchuck graduate, encourages teammates during a Spring League game. (Cooper Neill / The Spring League)
Former Marysville Pilchuck star Austin Joyner returns to football

Joyner’s return to football comes in The Spring League.

AquaSox’s Travis Kuhn and Emerald’s Ryan Jensen an hour after the game between the two teams on Sunday continue standing in salute to the National Anthem at Funko Field on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Reports suggest AquaSox may become full-season High-A team

The club would field players further along in their development who are more likely to one day play for the Mariners.

Seattle Seahawks' DK Metcalf reacts after a first down catch during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
DK Metcalf has huge game as Seattle takes control of NFC West

The much-maligned defense comes through as the Seahawks move 1 game ahead of the Rams in the NFC West.

Most Read