Brignac decides to be a Dawg...again

Life is funny sometimes. Life also gives you second chances. Junior Brignac knows about both. Today, Junior realized a dream he thought he never would after signing a professional contract to play baseball in 1996. Today he decided to fulfill a promise he made to the University of Washington that same year. He may be a little behind schedule, but just as it was 6 years ago, Junior Brignac is once again a Dawg.

"I told Coach Neu (Neuheisel) that I'm coming to Washington," Brignac told Dawgman.com late Saturday night. "He was excited and said they are excited to have me. I never thought in my wildest dreams that this was still going to be a viable option for me, playing college football after missing five years, and playing at Washington." He'll be arriving this fall as a true freshman with 5 years to play 4, even though he is 24 years old.

The 6-3.5, 205-pound Brignac arrived at his decision quickly, after just one day on campus. Familiarity probably played a part in why he pulled the trigger without much hesitation. "It was the same feeling I had before, but this time I appreciated it a lot more this time when I went up there," Junior said. "It was a great atmosphere. Coach Neu (Neuheisel) is a great guy, and I know he's as great a coach as he is a person."

Perhaps it was the tunnel that did it. "Awesome," Brignac said about his walk down memory lane. "I got the same exact feeling I had the first time I went through the tunnel. I can't describe it. You just have to go through it."

So what exactly did he do? "I got in Friday around 12:30," he said. "I met the coaches. I talked a little bit with Coach (Keith) Gilbertson. He's a great guy. He fired me up with the offense they run. We went over some tapes and everything. I met with Abner (Thomas). He's a really great guy. I met him in '96 and he was a big influence on why I chose them back then. I just became acquainted with everybody."

His conversation with Gilby took a turn for the interesting. "I did a lot of visualization when I was there," Junior said. "In fact, in Coach Gilbertson's office he was demonstrating a pass route, and Coach Neu came in. He asked me what I was thinking about, and as Coach Gilbertson was describing the route I told him I was watching myself catching it and running for 6."

His walk through Husky Stadium was also the first time Brignac had seen Field Turf. "I don't know if it's fast or slow, but they say it's better than astro-turf, so anything's better than that," he said. "I'm all with it."

His other activities included brunch with Coach Chuck Heater and a meeting with some of the current players. "I met Paul (Arnold) and Cody (Pickett)," Brignac said. "They are great guys. They're just fun. Paul's a pretty low-key guy. Cody is a great guy. There's something about him...some kind of fire about him. He's going to be a great player."

Whether Junior will be on scholarship or not right away has yet to be worked out, but he's not concerned about it. "We haven't figured out what we are going to do yet," he said. "I do have money from baseball to go to school, so Coach Heater and Coach Neu will talk about it a little more later on next week and figure out what they want to do."

But that's not Brignac's biggest concern. "I'm not in football shape right now," he said. "All it's going to take is dedication. In baseball, they are serious about the weight room to a certain extent, but they are more focused on practicing fundamentals and getting ready for the game. The drive is still in me and I've always worked hard. Once I get in the weight room, get my reps...it should take a good two or three weeks to get ready. And once I get that first hit, I'll feel more comfortable. I know it's going to come, but I'm not worried about it. It's like injuries. It's part of football."

He's ready to attack his new future with determination. "I'm excited," he said. "Honestly I feel more excited than when I signed my contract to play baseball."

The paperwork for Junior is expected to arrive sometime next week. If the Husky coaches decide to give Brignac a ride, he will sign a scholarship agreement. Other schools may come and try to pursuade him to reconsider his decision, but according to him that's not going to happen. "Texas or Florida State could come right now and it wouldn't matter," he said. "I'm going to play for U-Dub. I'm going to get prepared for a great season, contribute to what they have and hopefully be an impact player, bring back a national title."

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