University of Washington Huskies
Fox Island, Washington
Gig Harbor High School
The comparisons began as soon as Seferian-Jenkins arrived at the Seattle campus in 2011. Two years later, it is easy to see why even the casual fan knows that the Husky proudly wears the title of "King of the Hill" when it comes to rating college football's talent at the tight end position.
Blessed with incredible pass catching skills, Seferian-Jenkins displays the athleticism that few have seen at this position, drawing comparisons to Tony Gonzalez, who was also a two-sport performer at California before embarking on what will soon be a Hall of Fame induction for the former Kansas City Chief and present Atlanta Falcon.
With his quickness off the snap, explosive first step and the mismatch he often creates for safeties with his imposing frame and eye-opening leaping ability, Seferian-Jenkins is often compared to another former Missouri great, former San Diego Chargers standout Kellen Winslow Sr.
With his tenacity and stiff-arm ability, the Husky tight end could rival former Denver Broncos Hall of Famer, Shannon Sharpe, for his ability to power through the initial tackle and gain huge chunks of "real estate" after the catch. While not as vocal as the Broncos sensation, Seferian-Jenkins has drawn considerable respect from opposing defensive coordinators, as they often double- and even triple-team him, with little success in attempts to stop the receiver.
That is evident by the fact that he not only holds the school career-records for tight ends with 21 scoring grabs (fourth overall in UW annals), but Seferian-Jenkins has also produced key receptions that set up 51 other touchdown drives (offense had 135 touchdowns in games played in by their tight end, who was involved with big plays on 52.60% of those series) and on nine other possessions that led to UW field goals.
Of the 410 first downs recorded by Washington receivers in the 38 contests that Seferian-Jenkins has appeared in, the tight end registered 97 of them (23.66%). He also converted 30 third-down passes into first downs for the Huskies. Additionally, he has capitalized on his size to out-leap opponents to pull down 27 tosses inside the red zone, including 11 on goal-line snaps.
Heath Miller (Pittsburgh) was regarded as the most dominating blocker of his era during his playing days at Virginia (2002-04). The first Atlantic Coast Conference player to win the coveted John Mackey Award in 2004, he relished the blocking side of the game and his physicality and dependability is what has made the consensus All-American one of the NFL's best tight ends for the last decade.
Miller averaged 5.05 knockdowns blocks per game during his three-year career with the Cavaliers, including an average of 5.83 knockdowns during his final campaign in 2004. The Husky tight end boasts an average of 5.62 knockdowns per game during his career, including an average of seven knockdowns in 2013, as his 20 touchdown-resulting blocks that season are the most recorded by any tight end, fullback, wide receiver or tailback at any level of college football.
Seferian-Jenkins had averaged 4.92 knockdowns per game as a sophomore. The only NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision tight end to average more knockdowns per game in 2012 was Cincinnati's Travis Kelce (5.31 avg). The Husky tied Kelce for the national lead among tight ends for touchdown-resulting blocks with 10 in 2012. His 17 down-field blocks were two shy of Kelce's 19 during the 2012 schedule.
Prior to his arrival at the University of Washington, Seferian-Jenkins was a two-sport standout at Gig Harbor High School. He received a five-star prospect rating and was regarded as the best tight end in the high school ranks by Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report, as Scout.com also regarded him as the nation's best tight end.
As a junior and senior, Seferian-Jenkins received All-State honors from the Seattle Times and Class 4A first-team accolades from the Associated Press. During his final year, he garnered All-American second-team recognition from ESPN. He was also a first-team All-American selection by MaxPreps after he snared 62 passes for 1,152 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009.
Seferian-Jenkins was a member of the Prep Star "Dream Team" and named to the Long Beach Press-Telegram's "Best in the West" first-team. He was one of five seniors from the state named a "blue-chip prospect" by the Seattle Times and one of just eight players from the Pacific Northwest named a "Northwest Nugget" by the Tacoma News-Tribune, in addition to earning "Western 100" list accolades from that news service.
At Gig Harbor High, Seferian-Jenkins competed as a wide receiver, tight end, offensive tackle and defensive end and was a two-time Class 4A All-Narrows League and All-District choice during his three-year gridiron career, helping the Tide rank 28th in the state polls during his sophomore season.
Seferian-Jenkins was also a two-time All-Narrows League selection in basketball, where he lettered three times, first, for coach Kerry Yousey as a forward during his sophomore year before being coached by Lyle McIntosh as a junior and senior. He served as squad captain during his senior hoops campaign, as he averaged 17 points and nine rebounds per game for the Tide in 2010-11.
College football recruiters began showing up to watch Seferian-Jenkins play almost as soon as he suited up for the Tide in 2007. Grid coach Darren McKay immediately realized that he had that "special" player every coach dreams of mentoring. At first glance, the coach saw a player who was a massive man, especially for a high school player, as he stood over 6:05 during his sophomore season.
Seferian-Jenkins towered over his classmates and even a few fellow Division I prospects.
But the coach also looked past the physical frame and saw a soft-spoken, down-to-earth teenager, who would happens to quickly develop into one of the top prospects in the country. "When you talk about catching, blocking and doing everything naturally, there's no one better than Austin," said CBS College Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
Because Seferian-Jenkins is so light on his feet, McKay often used him to create mismatches by splitting him out wide, given his ability to adjust to the ball on downfield routes. "I haven't seen a person his size able to adjust to a ball like that," McKay said.
One look at McKay's cell-phone and much of his call history was a back-and-forth with Seferian-Jenkins. McKay sees where his standout is now, but can't help but look back to when the tight end was a chubby cheeked eighth grader. Even back then he was big. People noticed. They couldn't believe he wasn't even in high school.
The recruiting circus started quickly enough, sending Seferian-Jenkins all across the country with his mother, Linda Seferian and his sister, Michaela. At the time the recruiting trips began, his mother noted with a laugh, "I think my daughter is looking forward to a vacation soon where it's not connected to any of the recruiting stuff. I'm going to take her on a special vacation where there's not any of that."
Because of his connection to his family and his desire to be a part of the rebuilding effort at Washington, Seferian-Jenkins decided to stay home and in August, 2010, he committed to attend the University of Washington, signing his national letter of intent on February 2nd, 2011. He was joined that day by Gig Harbor teammate, Kasen Williams, in becoming Husky recruits. In 26 games together at Washington, the tandem has accounted for a combined 223 receptions for 2,695 yards (12.09 ypc) and 25 touchdowns.
"I'm really blessed to have an amazing family," Seferian-Jenkins said. "It's one-of-a-kind, because some people would die to have the family I do." There are others who would give anything to have Seferian-Jenkins' talent. However, it is his personality that sets him apart. He could thank his grandfather for that.
When Linda Seferian looks at her son, she can't help but think about her father. There are times when Austin Seferian-Jenkins gets this look on his face and Linda is forced to do a double-take. It's almost as if her larger-than-life father, Edward, is still alive, standing right in front of her. "Austin carries that and it's kind of like my dad is still with us," she said. "For Austin, it's his grandfather is still with him."
For 35 years, Edward was the conductor of the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, a man with the right mix of humor, personality and patience, qualities that came in handy for Seferian-Jenkins as he went through the recruiting process. It's been years since Edward died of cancer, but his grandson still seeks his approval. "Do you think grandpa Edward would be proud of me?" Seferian-Jenkins sometimes asks his mother.
When Seferian-Jenkins first enrolled at the University of Washington for the spring quarter in March of 2011 to participate in spring practice, he measured in at 250 pounds. Some on the staff and in the media wondered if the recruit's long-term future would be at tight end. There were those who projected him to bulk up to a 300-pound left offensive tackle by the time he wraps up his career with the Huskies.
However, Seferian-Jenkins has, and always will, consider himself a tight end, working long hours to maintain his imposing frame. He emerged from 2013 spring practice at 266 pounds. "My thing of not playing offensive tackle is the health issue," he said. "I don't want to be that big. That could end up not being good for your health. Being 300-some pounds is not always healthy. You can say what you want about it, I don't want to do it."
Seferian-Jenkins also had plans to join the UW basketball team and the extra weight would limit his mobility. "I plan on playing at the collegiate level," he said. "I have a roster spot, so I'm going to plan on playing there. It will keep me in great shape."
He would suit up for the Huskies' hoops squad after his freshman gridiron season, averaging 1.1 points and 2.1 rebounds per game as a forward coming off the bench. He added a spark to the team, as Washington compiled a 13-4 record after he made his first appearance vs. Stanford on January 21st, 2011 as a walk-on, as UW went on to capture the Pac-12 Conference title. He would become the 19th known Husky to play both football and basketball at Washington, the first since Nate Robinson (2002 football season;, 2003-05 in basketball), but just the fourth since 1985.
On the football field, Seferian-Jenkins appeared in all 13 games, starting 10 times (team used multiple receivers to open the game in his three non-starts), finishing third on the team with 41 receptions, the fifth-best season total by a UW tight end. He gained 538 yards, the fourth-highest total by a Husky tight end in a campaign, scoring six times. He hauled in 75.93% of the passes targeted to him (41-of-54) and had key receptions that led to 19 Washington touchdown drives and on two other possessions that led to field goals.
The freshman recorded 33 first-down grabs and converted 10 third-down throws, making nine receptions inside the red zone. He was named to The NFL Draft Report's Freshman All-American first-team, received All-Pac 12 Conference honorable mention and was the recipient of the team's Travis Spring Most Outstanding Freshman Award.
A finalist for the Mackey Award in 2012 (given to the nation's top tight end), Seferian-Jenkins was selected All-American first-team by The NFL Draft Report and third-team by CBS Sports. The All-Pac 12 Conference second-team pick led the nation's tight ends in receptions (5.31 pg) and receiving yardage (65.54 pg) per game. He set school tight end season-records with 69 catches for 852 yards (12.35 ypc) and seven touchdowns.
Seferian-Jenkins caught 75.82% of the passes targeted to him (69-of-91), producing 39 first downs while converting 13 third-down tosses. He had 34 catches for at least 10 yards, including 14 for 20 yards or longer. He also set up 16 touchdown drives and three possessions that resulted in field goals with his timely catches.
The tight end doesn't believe he would have had this prodigious production through two years at any other school. "No, God put me in this position, to put me back to Washington to revive a position that had died," Seferian-Jenkins said. "I'm just so thankful and blessed to have such great coaches and teammates, and to be in a system as great for me as this one."
The junior entered the 2013 season as the favorite to garner numerous post-season honors, including the Mackey Award, which he won over finalists Eric Ebron (North Carolina) and Nick O'Leary (Florida State). Most professional scouting organizations regard the Husky as one of the most coveted tight end in his draft class. After sitting out the season opener vs. Boise State, Seferian-Jenkins started the next 12 games on the 2013 schedule, playing for a unit that seemed to be relying more on their ground game and deep passing attack, rather than utilizing the success their tight end had afforded them in "moving the chains" with underneath tosses.
Seferian-Jenkins made the most of those limited opportunities in 2013, however. He caught 36-of-50 passes targeted to him, good for 450 yards and eight touchdowns. His as scoring grabs are tied for seventh on the school's overall season-record chart and second-best ever by a Washington tight end in a campaign. In addition to his eight scoring catches, he posted key receptions that led to 10 more UW touchdown drives, including hauling in five passes on goal-line plays.
After the Kraft Hunger Bowl, Seferian-Jenkins announced that he would not return to school for his senior season and had filed for early entry for the 2014 NFL Draft. At the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot and could not participate in speed agility tests. He returned home and shortly after, underwent surgery to repair the injury, which will take six-to-eight weeks to heal, more than ample time to be recovered by the start of NFL training camp in July.
Seferian-Jenkins has started 35-of-38 games for the Huskies, including each of his last 28 contests…The junior has recorded 146 receptions for 1,840 yards (12.60 ypc) and 21 touchdowns, totaling 126 points, along with making two solo tackles after interceptions and advancing a fumble recovery for a one-yard gain in a brief appearance as a defensive end…His 146 receptions topped Vince Weathersby (1985-88) for fourth on the school career-record chart.