HUSKY LEGEND: Tuiasosopo To Be Honored Saturday

Sept. 11, 2009

Former Washington quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo will be honored as the Husky Legend after the third quarter of Saturday's game vs. Idaho.

by Michael Jeremiah

As a freshman, Marques Tuiasosopo was a stocky quarterback with an NFL pedigree and a last name that could confuse even the most experienced broadcasters. Four years later, Tuiasosopo was a Rose Bowl Champion, NFL-ready quarterback and a Husky icon. The road between was one of the most exciting and successful of any player in Washington football history and made him a Husky legend.

Tuiasosopo came to Washington from nearby Woodinville, Wash., where he was a highly decorated and desired recruit. He was named the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's state player of the year and the Gatorade Player of the Year in Washington as a senior and picked Washington over UCLA, Notre Dame and California.

'I wanted to go to a school where the football team was going to compete for national championships and Rose Bowls,' said Tuiasosopo, who also liked that he could major in business at Washington. 'My family was close and that was nice for them to be able to come and watch me play. It was the well-rounded characteristics of what University of Washington is and what they stand for that helped me with my decision.'

His family has been an important part of Huskies sports for over a decade now. Currently, his sister Leslie is an assistant coach for the UW volleyball team and played for the squad also, sister Ashley was a member of the 2009 national championship softball team, and cousin Trenton is a senior on the football team. Marques' brother Zach was a fullback for Washington and his brother Matt originally signed a letter of intent to play quarterback for the UW, but chose a baseball career path and is in the Seattle Mariners' organization.

Although he started his career behind Brock Huard, Tui (a nickname that all Tuiasosopos have carried at Washington) was forced into action as a true freshman on the national stage. After Huard was forced out by injury against eventual national champion Nebraska, Tuiasosopo came on to lead the Huskies, racking up an impressive 270 yards and two touchdowns. The Huskies lost 27- 14, but Washington fans knew that they had a special talent waiting in the wings.

As a junior in 1999, Tuiasosopo got his chance to start for Washington. The wait was worth it for Husky fans, as he put up gaudy offensive numbers during his junior year. In perhaps his defining performance as a Husky, Tuiasosopo was the first quarterback in NCAA history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 200 in Washington's 35-30 victory over Stanford.

His junior year set the table to lead one of the great teams in Husky history in 2000. Already one of the most talented quarterbacks to put on a Husky uniform, he cemented his place as one of the best field generals in Washington history.

Leading the offense, Tuiasosopo was integral to a victory for the Huskies in one of the fiercest non-conference rivalries in college football when Washington beat Miami 34-29 in Seattle. Standing in the tunnel before that game and feeling the energy of Husky Stadium is one of Tuiasosopo's favorite memories, and the loud cheers amped him up before the big win.

The Huskies would go onto an 11-1 record, the Pac-10 conference championship and a Rose bowl berth against Purdue University. The Huskies proved to be too much for the Boilermakers, dominating play on the way to a 34-24 victory.

'When the clock went to zero and just looking over at our sidelines, in that moment, all the hard work that we put into it, it came into fruition,' said Tuiasosopo.

After that season, which saw Washington finish as the third-ranked team in the nation, Tuiasosopo was selected in the second round of the April NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. He spent the next seven years with the Raiders and the New York Jets. Tuiasosopo stuck in the league due to his talent, but another important quality that he learned as a Husky also helped him have a long career.

'Its physical toughness and mental toughness,' said Tuiasosopo. 'It's the backbone. It helps you survive. It helps you stay strong in the hard times and that's what we held our hats on and hung our hats on that.'

Tuiasosopo is back with Washington as an assistant strength coach for the football team. Tuiasosopo assists head strength coach Ivan Lewis with player workouts and other strength related issues. Although he is not allowed to actively coach, Tuiasosopo is allowed to roam up and down the Husky sideline during practices and games.

Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian worked with Tuiasosopo in 2004 with the Raiders, and that connection helped him to land a job on the staff this year. That time spent around Sarkisian with the Raiders and now at Washington has assured Tui that the Huskies are in good hands with their new head man. 'He's the same coach, and that's what I like about Sark. He is who he is,' said Tuiasosopo.

Tuiasosopo made himself a Husky legend in his last two years on campus, amid a coaching change that could have derailed a stellar career. Instead of complaining, those teams bonded together and took ownership of the team and responsibility for their performances. The result was a strong bond among the players and a resolve that led to one of the greatest seasons in Washington football history.

Now involved on the other end of a change, Tuiasosopo hopes that this year's team can do the same.

'One piece of advice that I would like to give to these guys is to come together as a team and take ownership of the team,' said Tuiasosopo. 'Coach Sark and his great staff that he's put together are caretakers and coaches to point these kids in the right direction. But ultimately, how many games these guys win, will be up to them.'

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