"It's sorta weird without him out here," Fellner told Dawgman.com after the start of spring football. "Nate was such a leader and a real presence for us out here, but you know, you gotta move on and he's on the bigger and better things."
Fellner came to Washington as a big-hitting safety prospect from Fresno powerhouse Clovis West and had offers from several FBS programs and he was a holdover commit from Tryone Willingham's partial 2009 class before Steve Sarkisian took over in December of 2008.
"It was definitely a weird time for me," Fellner said back in 2009. "With all the changes I didn't know what was going to happen, but I always wanted to be a Husky and when I met with the coaches, they said they felt I could be a difference-maker."
But things didn't seem to be headed that direction when there were rumors he was going to be asked to greyshirt the 2009 season due to the amount of players already on scholarship with the Huskies.
That never panned out and he enrolled with the rest of his class that summer and he's been laying out ball-carriers and receivers ever since.
"We always liked what Nate brought to our team," Husky safeties coach Jeff Mills said recently. "He's tough, he'll come up and hit you and he's a smart football guy with his family ties to football, so we knew he could be a contributor for us, but I think he's even exceeded our expectations."
As a freshman, Fellner started three games totaling 15 tackles and laid some big licks on receivers and returners, registering one of the biggest hits of the 2009 season when he blasted Washington State's Carl Winston on a kick return in the Apple Cup.
Last season, Fellner started all 13 games for the Huskies and led the team in interceptions with five while notching 79 tackles, good for sixth on the team.
"He's definitely been a playmaker back there for us, but we expect even more out of him now that Nate (Williams) isn't here anymore," Mills said. "A lot of it will be the finer points of playing the position and just making sure we are lined up correctly. He'll be back there for us and he'll need to be a leader and we think that's a good role for him because of his energy and his Football I.Q."
"I love the chance to lead my team," Fellner said. "After the Holiday Bowl, none of us are satisfied. Our goal was to go bowling last year, but we had so many more chances to make things happen and we missed on some things.
"This year we all have a taste of success and that just makes us hungrier because we want to win it all. Last season was just the start for us, it isn't the end, by any means."
And that is music to the ears of Husky fans.
Leadership Role Suits Fellner
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