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Sports >  UW football

Standout DT Tuli Letuligasenoa follows Michael Penix Jr. in announcing UW return in 2023

Dec. 10, 2022 Updated Sat., Dec. 10, 2022 at 8:24 p.m.

By Mike Vorel Seattle Times

SEATTLE – The Michael Penix Jr. effect is real.

Like UW’s standout quarterback, defensive tackle Tuli Letuligasenoa will return for a sixth season in 2023, he announced Saturday.

“Especially with big Mike making that announcement, for sure, I’m coming back,” Letuligasenoa said following the Huskies’ Saturday practice.

When asked if Penix’s return played a part in his decision, the fifth-year junior defensive tackle added: “Not really, but it definitely helped. I just feel like that’s what’s best for me at this point in my career.”

A 6-foot-1, 307-pound defensive lineman from Concord, California, Letuligasenoa started 11 of 12 games this fall and had 30 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss and four pass breakups. A former four-star recruit in the 2018 class, he has totaled 94 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, seven passes defended, two sacks and an interception in five seasons and 40 career games.

Letuligasenoa earned 2022 All-Pac-12 second-team honors from Pro Football Focus.

UW edges Bralen Trice (who had 33 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and eight sacks this fall) and Zion Tupuola-Fetui (27 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble) both said Saturday they’ve yet to make draft decisions.

But they may stay or go side-by-side.

“I’m in constant communication with (coach Kalen) DeBoer and Bralen and a bunch of guys who have decisions to make,” Tupuola-Fetui said. “We’re just figuring it out. It’s a hard decision to make. I like it here and there’s a good thing going on here, so it would be hard to leave. But we’ll see how the process goes. But yeah, I’m definitely in conjunction with Bralen on our plans.”

“Right now I’m just focused on this bowl game,” said Trice, a 2022 first-team All-Pac-12 performer. “I’ve been talking about it back and forth with my family, so we’ll see where it goes.”

We’ll see, too, what Husky standouts – and possible draft hopefuls – like wide receivers Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan and left tackle Troy Fautanu ultimately decide.

But Penix’s announcement may play a part.

“For such a key guy like that making his decision so early, it basically just gave the whole team that faith to double down and come back,” Letuligasenoa said.

“It’s definitely a big factor for a lot of guys on the team,” Trice said. “Y’all see what we did with Mike on the team. I’m not saying he’s the main factor in what we did this season, but he’s definitely one of our key players. He’s a big decision maker for a lot of the guys on our team. So we’ll see what happens.”

Spears enters transfer portal

UW redshirt freshman cornerback Zakhari Spears decided to enter the transfer portal, he announced on social media . The 6-foot-1, 195-pound corner and former three-star recruit did not appear in a game during his two seasons in Seattle.

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