Husky Seniors Deserve Proper Sendoff

Nov. 15, 2008

• Ballman, Hawkins and Perkins Saying Goodbye
• Gameday Central

By Jeff Bechthold

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Each season, on the third or fourth Saturday of the month of November,an annual ritual takes place. Usually around that time of year, the Washingtonfootball team plays its final home game of the year.

In years ending in an odd number, that game is usually the Apple Cup,against cross-state rival Washington State. The stakes of that game arealready apparent to each and every player.

In even-numbered years, like 2008, the final home game of the yeargenerally comes against some other Pac-10 rival and, while the addedcachet that the Apple Cup provides isn't there, it's the game of a lifetime fora significant number of players wearing the purple and gold.

This year, that group of players numbers 19. They're the Washingtonseniors and today, they'll run out of the iconic Husky Stadium tunnel fortheir final time as players.

They are: punter Jared Ballman, offensive guard Casey Bulyca,cornerback Byron Davenport, defensive back Desmond Davis, cornerbackMesphin Forrester, center Juan Garcia, tight end Michael Gottlieb, safetyDarin Harris, wide receiver Charles Hawkins, defensive tackle JohnieKirton, fullback Luke Kravitz, long snapper Robert Lukevich, defensivetackle Jovon O'Connor, placekicker Ryan Perkins, linebacker Chris Stevens,linebacker Trenton Tuiasosopo, offensive guard Jordan White-Frisbee, tightend Walt Winter and wide receiver Chancellor Young.

There's no glossing over the fact that the last few seasons of Huskyfootball have been a struggle in terms of wins and losses.

No one is more aware of that than those 19 seniors who have investedmore blood, sweat and tears into the last four or five (even six) years thananyone else.

Along with hours of practice, weight lifting, conditioning, film studyand the myriad other tasks assigned to the college football player, some ofthese seniors have sacrificed more than time and effort.

Garcia, the Huskies' lone sixth-year player, has overcome not one, butthree devastating injuries, any one of which might have ended his career onits own. Today, he'll be making his 35th consecutive start at center.Perkins, who booted a career-high four field goals (in four attempts) inlast week's game vs. Arizona State, is forgoing a possible fifth season nextyear as the result of a knee injury suffered a few spring games ago, onethat will not only prematurely end his career, but may affect him the restof his life.

Surgery to a damaged knee ended Bulyca's career earlier this season.Davenport has never made it onto the field this year due to injury. Aconcussion has severely truncated Harris' senior season while numerous foot injuries have hampered White-Frisbee over the last five years.

That's just the start of the list. And, no doubt, any given collegeprogram could provide a similar one.

The point isn't that these players should be pitied for the sacrificesthey've made and the blood they've spilled. After all, there are certainlyrewards for membership in the team -- not the least of which is acollege scholarship for most of them. And, of course, no one is forcinganyone to play football.

The point is that these seniors are deserving of the respect of everyfan who claims the Huskies. While the results haven't come as they hadin many prior years in Montlake, their effort and dedication is worthy ofone last round of applause from the Husky faithful today.

Just as much as any who have ever worn the colors of the Universityof Washington, these 19 young men are true Dawgs, and that stillmeans a lot.

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