For Brock Huard, there is no shelter from the hype and he knows it.
Not even here - a morning’s drive from home, holed up on a campus barren of football for more than half a century, bunking with a dormful of new buddies who were allthis and all-that themselves. He is still the one singled out, sought after, eyeballed, interrogated - and therefore teased, darted and dogged by his bunkmates.
“Make sure they spell my name right, Broccoli,” says one.
“Remember to tell them you owe it all to your line,” reminds another.
This will go on and on for Brock Huard, as long as performance keeps pace with perception and probably even if it doesn’t - which, at this point, seems as likely as somebody not having an opinion about those new Husky threads he’ll model come fall.
Indeed, about all he can do now is distance himself from the old hype.
“There’s already another all-state or All-American in the making for next year,” said Huard, the Puyallup quarterback who’s the main attraction at tonight’s East-West All-Star Summer Classic at Albi Stadium.
“You enjoy this stuff while you have it and make the most of it, but life goes on. There are too many challenges ahead.”
The wooing and winning of Brock Huard last winter became the first significant drama of University of Washington football since the “Owed by Billy Joe” soap and all its various spinoffs.
He is, of course, the latest in a splendid - an intermittently spectacular - line of hotcha quarterbacks who have hopscotched from the ranks of our state’s high schools through various bowl heroics and into the NFL. He has all the brass and the braid, not the least of which being the Gatorade Circle of Champions national player of the year award.
He is also the brother of the current Husky quarterback, who has had the bad luck to be the man at the tiller through the school’s NCAA probation, a traumatic coaching change and a couple of rocky 7-4 seasons that were seen as a dismal anticlimax to what came before.
There’s been a lot of Heartbreak Hotel in Damon Huard’s stay at UW. What, it was heard said, could possibly entice his younger brother to follow him?
Not that you heard Brock saying it.
“I was real careful with what I did and who I told what,” he said. “But it was a situation that anyplace I was going to go - UCLA, Stanford, UW - all had great things to offer. I wasn’t going to lose with any of those schools.”
Still, recruiting “was the hardest thing I’ve gone through in my life.
“Damon told me in the beginning that it’s going to seem like a lot of fun, the traveling and all that, but in the end it’s really difficult to tell people ‘no’ when they’ve treated you pretty nice. I made my decision on Jan. 1, but I stayed up with my family and friends until about 2 in the morning and by that time it was clear that UW was the place for me.
“There were two big things about UW that UCLA couldn’t match. Playing with my big brother for a year and playing in front of 70,000 fans - Washington folks. Those two things tipped the scales.”
Some of those Washington folks haven’t always been kind to Damon these past two autumns, but that never seemed to enter into the equation.
“Damon was really honest with me,” said Huard. “It’s been a tough time for him in Seattle. You had the probation and Don James leaving and Jason Shelley, his top receiver, leaves and three offensive coordinators in five years. If you want to talk about college football, he’s experienced the guts of it.
“But there’s an opportunity there for me to watch a guy who’s been through so much, the ups and downs, the criticisms and still risen above that. Hopefully, I can help him have the senior year he should have.”
Realistically, the only impact Brock Huard figures to have on the Huskies in 1995 is in the department of moral support. The same goes for the other five future Huskies who’ve been working out with the all-stars at Gonzaga - with the possible exceptions of Ferris’ Randy Jones, who can kick it a mile, and Hanford’s Mac Tuiaea, who is bigger than any of the defensive linemen on UW’s depth chart.
But even if it means taking licks on the scout team all season, Brock Huard is more than comfortable with his choice.
“Damon and I have never been on the same team before,” he said. “We can’t wait.”
For now, the hype will have to.