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January 3, 2013Greg Bell, SEATTLE - Finally, Austin Seferian-Jenkins rests.
Not exactly because he wants to, but because he needs to.
The Huskies' record-setting, do-it-all tight end says he will not play basketball as he did last winter. After consulting with his mother Linda and Huskies coaches Steve Sarkisian and Lorenzo Romar, ASJ is going to rest and stay on academics and football from now until the summer.
"I just need to focus on school and get (rested). I don't feel like I'd be to help the basketball team much right now," Seferian-Jenkins said over the phone days after he set a UW record for tight ends and extended others he already had broken in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Seferian-Jenkins, who will be a junior in the 2013 football season, also stressed how "blessed" he is to have two more seasons to play for the Huskies.
He smiled and reiterated that, yes, he means two more years.
Seferian-Jenkins this fall became the only underclassmen finalist for the John Mackey Award given annually to the nation's top tight end. It was the third of consecutive football-basketball-football seasons without him having more than a couple weeks off from conditioning, practicing or playing each sport.
Last season Seferian-Jenkins became the first Husky to play football and hoops since Nate Robinson in 2002 and '03. He averaged 7.2 minutes banging in 17 games as a freshman last basketball season. The hoops Huskies were 11-7 before ASJ joined them - then went 13-4 and were far more physical inside with him as a most powerful forward.
Seven-foot center Aziz N'Diaye was able to rest more and stay out of some of the foul trouble that he had before Seferian-Jenkins arrived, and Washington ended up winning its second outright regular-season conference basketball championship in more than a half century.
Romar had said all fall that he was hopeful to have Seferian-Jenkins back to provide needed depth among big men, but that the decision would be up to the player, his family and Sarkisian.
Ultimately, ASJ decided it would be best for both of his teams that he rest in the coming months.
He feels zapped after zipping through a second, smashing sophomore season for the football Huskies. He was often unstoppable even while defenses assigned two and even three defenders to him each week.
Two weeks ago against No. 20 Boise State triple-teamed him at times, and he still ended up with six catches for 61 yards to set the UW single-season record for yards receiving by a tight end. His 850 yards receiving this season broke Dave Williams' 47-year record of 795.
His 69 receptions this past season set another school record for the position. He owns Washington's career tight-end marks with 110 catches, 1,388 yards receiving, and 13 touchdown catches.
In 2011 the native of Fox Island, Wash., chose Washington over Texas, USC and just about every other school that has goal posts. He 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 behind the stands at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas immediately after UW lost in the last seconds to Boise State 28-26 on Dec. 22.
"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."