Washington quarterback Sam Huard looks for a reciever during a game against Washington State on Nov. 26, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington quarterback Sam Huard looks for a reciever during a game against Washington State on Nov. 26, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

UW backup QB Sam Huard entering transfer portal

The former 5-star recruit and son of ex-Huskies QB Damon Huard was relegated to a No. 3 role this past season.

By Mike Vorel / The Seattle Times

From an office overlooking Alaska Airlines Field — the same place where his dad and uncle both starred, where his name became synonymous with Husky history, where he verbally committed more than two years early, where he arrived with the reception of a conquering hero, only to be handed a headset and a sideline seat — Sam Huard’s UW dream effectively ended Tuesday.

Huard — a redshirt sophomore quarterback and former five-star recruit — informed UW coach Kalen DeBoer and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb that he intends to enter the transfer portal.

“What do I want more? Do I want to go play right now, or do I want to continue to stick it out, because this has been my dream?” Huard said Tuesday, in a Zoom call with local media. “Do I really want to leave here like this, having really not played much? It was not how I expected to come in (to UW), but sometimes that’s life.

“Part of me just really wanted to stick it out and continue to grow and develop and then hopefully get my opportunity down the road. But I wanted a fresh start and a chance to compete to go play. That’s what ultimately led me to making this decision.”

Huard — a 6-foot-2, 193-pound passer from Bellevue — completed 24 of 44 passes for 265 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions in five career games. He made his lone start in the 2021 Apple Cup, going 17 for 31 for 190 yards with one touchdown and four picks in a 40-13 loss inside Husky Stadium. He appeared in just one game this season, completing 2 of 2 passes for 24 yards in relief during a 52-6 win over Portland State.

The fairy tale didn’t come to fruition for Huard, who followed father Damon Huard and uncle Brock Huard in the lineage of Husky quarterbacks. He was relegated to the No. 3 role this fall, behind standout starter and Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. and sophomore backup (and former starter) Dylan Morris.

Penix — who broke UW’s single-season passing record and led the nation with 4,641 yards, as well as 35 touchdowns and eight interceptions — announced last month that he’ll return for a sixth season in 2023.

Which, for Huard, prompted a different decision.

“I don’t know if anyone expected him to come back, but I know how big he is to this program and how great of a player he is,” said Huard, who added that he made up his mind two days ago. “As you can imagine, him coming back definitely had an effect on the decision, because he’ll be the starter next year and it’s his team right now.”

Which means Huard is suddenly searching for a team of his own.

In 2021, the former Kennedy Catholic standout became the state’s all-time leader in prep passing yards (13,214) and passing touchdowns (153). He was ranked as a five-star recruit, the No. 3 quarterback and the No. 23 overall prospect in the 2021 class by 247Sports.

Less than two years later, Huard said “ultimately I’m just going to look at what’s the best situation for me right now. I don’t really care too much about what level (of college football) it is.”

But he isn’t burning bridges. Huard raised the remote possibility of returning to UW if he doesn’t encounter intriguing opportunities, and praised DeBoer and Grubb for their steadfast support. He said “obviously they told me they wanted me to stay and be a Dawg and continue to compete and stick it out. But at the same time, they understood the situation. They weren’t going to just tell me something to say it. That’s what I really appreciate about them, how much they care about all the guys on the team, not just me. They really want what’s best for us.”

Meanwhile, what’s best for Washington? After the Huskies failed to sign a high-school signal caller last month, DeBoer said: “Right now we’re comfortable (with three scholarship quarterbacks). We don’t need to just take a quarterback to have a body on the roster. We need to make sure we find the right quarterback that fits the situation, and right now we have three.

“Assuming that’s the situation, we would stay as is unless something else develops. But if it dropped to two obviously we’d have to figure something out at that point.”

Suddenly, the Huskies have to figure something out — whether that means adding a quarterback from the high school/junior-college ranks or the transfer portal. Four-star South Dakota standout Lincoln Kienholz was verbally committed for more than five months before flipping to Ohio State in December.

Huard will be the ninth Husky to hit the transfer portal this offseason — joining safety Cameron Williams (who landed at Georgia Southern), defensive tackle Kuao Peihopa (Hawaii), cornerback Zakhari Spears (UConn), wide receiver Lonyatta Alexander Jr. (undecided), tight end Caden Jumper (undecided), linebacker Daniel Heimuli (undecided), offensive lineman Victor Curne (undecided) and running back Jay’Veon Sunday (undecided). That group does not comprise any consistent starters from 2022.

The Huskies have added seven players from the portal as well: Oklahoma State cornerback Jabbar Muhammad, Cal Poly tight end Josh Cuevas, Arizona State running back Daniyel Ngata, Mississippi State running back Dillon Johnson, Michigan State wide receiver Germie Bernard, Sioux Falls edge Zach Durfee and USC linebacker Ralen Goforth.

Of course, adding transfer portal talent comes at a price — and Huard’s situation is proof of that. While there are avenues to instantly improve, those additions also yield inevitable exits.

Penix’s success, while paramount, swallows opportunities for others.

“I’ve grown up a Husky my whole life. It’s all I’ve known. It’s been my dream forever and it’s been my goal forever to play here,” Huard said. “So I just think that was just the main thing that [pushed] me to stay here. [I thought] even though I’m not going to be the guy this year, I’m still going to go compete to be the backup, and I know there’s a lot of value in that as well.

“But at the same time, just my desire to go play right now … I really didn’t get a senior year of high school. I played in three games in the spring (of 2021) and then I got to UW, and obviously these first two years at UW I haven’t played. That’s just a long time. Not playing in three years has definitely been tough. It’s what I love to do. I love to be out there. I love playing, and there’s no reps like game reps on that development side of it.”

For Huard, game reps have been few and far between.

So he’ll chase a different dream.

“It’s by far the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life, just because of how much this place means to me and how much I love being a Dawg and how much I try to value that and represent it the best way possible,” Huard said.

“Whatever opportunity I get next, I’m going to make the most of it, and I’m not going to regret my decision or look back or anything. I know I’ve made this decision and I’m going to move forward with it. I’m just going to try to make the most of it and do my best.”

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