Husky Hero Fletcher Jenkins

Fletcher Jenkins played on the defensive line for the Washington Huskies during the time when the Don James era was just being molded. Jenkins, a highly recruited player from Lakes High School in Tacoma, decided to play his college ball in front of family and friends.

Jenkins was a high school classmate of current UW Strength and Conditioning Coach Bill Gillespie. He was an inspirational leader on the field and an absolute wrecking ball on the interior of the defense. He worked his way up the depth chart so fast that he didn't redshirt, something that was almost unheard of under Don James back then.

After playing in a Sun Bowl victory over Texas in 1979 and then back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1981 and 1982, Jenkins was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press. He played for the Baltimore Colts in 1982 and then the Los Angeles Express in 1984 and 1985 before retiring.

Here is a Q&A with Fletcher Jenkins, Husky hero.
The most important Apple Cup was perhaps 1981, when the winner would advance to the Rose Bowl. What was your recollection of that famous game?

Fletcher: I remember that our defense was so dominant that game. Coming in we were so focused about winning because we knew what was at stake. We knew we controlled our own destiny if we won that game of course. I also remember my friend Mike Martin who played for Washington State.

Was there some trash talking going on between you and Mike?

Fletcher: Of course! Mike played at Clover Park and I played for Lakes High School, and my senior year, he rushed for 225 yards. I was out because I had injured my arm the week before. So during the game he was rushing up and down the field, he would wave to me as he would run down the field, you know, and say "how are you doing Fletch, and too bad you guys aren't going to the playoffs." It was something I'd never forget and it was good to pay him back.

So you made sure to remind him of that high school game?

Fletcher: Oh yeah, I'd say, "Mike you remember that game when you ran 200 yards on us...what are you gonna do today?" I was just trying to keep it loose out there. It was a fun time.

How did coach James prepare you guys for the Apple Cup, with so much at stake?

Fletcher: Well, for Coach James as far as preparation for his team, the last 48 hours was a big thing to him. He would take us over to the hotel over in Bellevue and we would go over our game plan and he was very serious about that. We would come back the next day looking at our stadium across the water (across the 520 bridge). He told us that we controlled our own destiny. When we got to the stadium he would give us a pre-game talk and say some encouraging words. The year before we went to the Rose Bowl and we had vowed to ourselves that we as a defense, that we would go back again. We just had to put the work in during the off-season.

In a rivalry game overall records and stats don't really matter.

Fletcher: No doubt. Though the fours years I was at Washington the cougars never beat us, but in an in-state rivalry game anybody can win. Any given time a team can beat you, look at the PAC-10 this year. UCLA was picked highly this year and did not perform like people thought they would.

What was your role as the Captain that year?

Fletcher: I was kind of a quiet type of guy. I didn't really say a lot as far as yelling and hitting guys. I usually led by example. Just going out hitting people and causing fumbles. I was just not a rah-rah kind of guy. I would just do my job and everybody did theirs. Coach Lambright groomed us like a pack of Bees.

Like Larry Tripplett, you led by example. Do you like that style of leadership?

Fletcher: I think that's the best way to do it because a lot of times we played teams, they would be talking before the games, and it's just giving you locker room material for the players. I think the more you concentrate on what you are doing, and whatever you do have to do to get yourself ready to play the game, that is the best way lead a team.

What was it like playing in front of nearly 60,000 fans?

Fletcher: Coming out of the tunnel I would say is one of the best feelings you could have. I wish everybody could experience coming out of the tunnel, hearing that siren going, and all those people start applauding, clapping, and cheering, it's like running on air. There is nothing like it. I appreciate all the fans that followed us. They are still supporting them right now, and the program is still flourishing.

Was your fondest memory at Washington? The back-to-back Rose Bowls?

Fletcher: No doubt. It was great plying at the U-dub. I was fortunate to go to three bowl games I went to one Sun Bowl and two Rose Bowls. Going to back-to-back Rose Bowls that was incredible. That class I came in with they all-redshirted except for two people myself Mark Jerue, and that following year we left and they came back and went to the Orange Bowl. That is the class I should have been in, but the fondest memory was going to back-to-back Rose Bowls.

Dawgman.com Top Stories