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Tight end back in offense for Huskies

Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins, right, isn’t going to be caught by California’s Sean Cattouse. (Associated Press)
Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins, right, isn’t going to be caught by California’s Sean Cattouse. (Associated Press)

SEATTLE – After setting almost every University of Idaho passing record, spending five seasons as an NFL backup and leading the British Columbia Lions to a Grey Cup title, Doug Nussmeier has no reason to look back on his playing career with regret.

But when the University of Washington’s 40-year-old offensive coordinator watches UW’s 6-foot-6 tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins make plays all over the field as a true freshman, Nussmeier can’t help but wonder what it would be like to throw to someone with that size, that agility and those big, soft hands.

“I might still be playing,” Nussmeier said this week.

Through four games of his freshman season, Seferian-Jenkins has already lived up to the sky-high hype that followed him to UW. He’s also almost single-handedly revived the tight end position at a school that used to turn out NFL starters year in and year out.

Four games is all it has taken for Seferian-Jenkins to eclipse the Huskies’ 2010 totals for tight end receptions (six; Seferian- Jenkins has nine) and tight end touchdowns (one; Seferian-Jenkins has three).

It may all seem like too much, too soon, but both Seferian-Jenkins and head coach Steve Sarkisian are making sure to temper the hyperbole this week.

“The next step in this thing for Austin is the consistency factor, you know, of really trying to do things right, down after down after down,” Sarkisian said.

Whatever Seferian-Jenkins might become, he has already – at the least – provided UW with a receiving threat at the tight end position. Last year, the Huskies basically gave up on the position because of a combination of factors that befell that group of tight ends. This season, despite featuring a corps that had just four career receptions – all four of them from Marlion Barnett, who quit the team two weeks ago – the Huskies have brought the position back to the forefront. Seferian- Jenkins and Michael Hartvigson have combined for 12 receptions through four games, including the three touchdowns.

“He’s a talented guy,” Sarkisian said of Seferian-Jenkins. “And Michael Hartvigson – we’ve got a lot of things we can do with those two guys. So I knew we were going to have something. I just didn’t know how long it was going to take to get to that point.”