Dawgman.com Diary - 9/28

A hush came over the crowded media at Keith Gilbertson's press conference Monday. The doors to the Don James Center opened while Gilbertson was speaking. Being supported by Joe Lobendahn, Khalif Barnes and two crutches, Zach Tuiasosopo walked into the room and slowly sat down in the corner.

Tuiasosopo went down in the first half of the Washington-Notre Dame game and did not get back up on his own. He was taken to the sideline where cameras showed the trainers working on his ankle. Not once did it cross my mind that it was anything more serious than a sprained ankle. However, it was not to be.

Preliminary indications were that he had fractured his fibula and that the injury would most likely end his season - and playing career - at the University of Washington.

It was weird seeing somebody who is normally rumbling down the field at full speed looking to hit anybody and anything in his path one day being unable to do so the next.

"I'm kind of down about the injury," said Tuiasosopo. "But it's something you have to deal with. I'm just looking forward to seeing how the team prepares and gets ready for this week."

The general feeling is that unless the Huskies make a bowl game, Tuiasosopo has likely played his last down as a Husky. Tuiasosopo had been listed as one of the top fullback prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft and the injury may play a factor in whether his stock moves up or down. So does mean his UW career is over?

"You know what, in my mind it's never over," said Tuiasosopo. "Whether I'm playing or not, I'm always there for my team. I think that's one thing that is key is that we all stay together regardless if you are playing or not and I'm going to do what I can do to support the team."

With the Huskies' bowl odds growing longer each week, chances are it'll be Apple Cup or nothing for Tuiasosopo. Gilbertson said that it's a possibility, but he also said that about Rich Alexis last season and we never saw Alexis - now with the Jacksonville Jaguars - again.

"If that's what it is, that's what it is," said Tuiasosopo. "Like I said, it's whatever the team needs. I'll do whatever I can to get back and play, but as far time ranges, I haven't really thought about it. I'm just hoping for a fast healing."

As a team captain, one would think that Tuiasosopo would be frustrated that his absence means he won't able to help pursue Washington's first win. However, he still sees the positives over the negatives and says there is no frustration from his part over this season.

"Definitely it wasn't the way I envisioned," admitted Tuiasosopo. "Frustrating, I don't think so. We've had some lows, but all that means is that there are highs and success to come. I believe as long as we are still together, we'll be fine."

There is no word yet whether or not he will travel with the team to the Bay Area, as Washington takes on Stanford this weekend. If it was up to him, he would be there for his team but unfortunately, restrictions and treatment schedules may force him to stay back and support the team from a distance. In his place, James Sims will get the start and he will be backed up by red-shirt freshman Durrell Moss. On Monday, Gilbertson indicated that he has no plans to move anyone to fullback or take a true freshman's red-shirt off. Tuiasosopo said, however, that the fullback position is in good hands.

"I'm very confident," he said. "I think people have seen James' ability and Durrell Moss is going to be an up-and-coming star. They are very athletic players."

A sixth year is almost unlikely due to the fact he has already played so much in his career and most fifth-year seniors do not get a sixth year unless they fall under the ‘hardship' rule. Tuiasosopo did not indicate whether or not he planned on pursuing that option.

"I thought about it," he said. "But it's something I'm looking to in the future maybe but right now I just want to be with team."

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