Dean Janikowski Seizes the Moment
As Husky Stadium roared, he took a deep breath tuning out the world, bent his leg back, and kicked the ball through the goal post, making his 16th point of the night and single-handedly securing the Cougars' first Apple Cup win since 2012.
Dean Janikowski lives life by the motto "Cougs versus everybody" and exemplifies this through comradery in the game, brotherhood carried in his friendships, and fearlessness in the face of adversity.
Janikowski, a digital culture and technology major who earned Pac-12 Fall Honor Roll accolades each of the last two seasons, wasn't always the starter after being a preferred walk-on in 2019. He chose Pullman because like WSU, he values the family found through football.
After two years of no playing time, Dean remained patient and put his energy into preparing for his debut moment. His schedule revolved around kicking, he said. Janikowski began his mornings with 4 a.m. workouts, then worked out with the team, took three ice baths throughout the day, all on top of maintaining his spot on the honor roll.
Although he worked hard, Dean was met with competition during fall camp where Andrew Boyle stepped in and took the placekicking job.
"I was super bummed hearing that I wasn't going to start and with that, I still had the mindset to not slow down and just keep speeding up and prove that I can kick and prove that the last two years I wasn't slacking off and was putting in the work to perform," Janikowski said.
When Dean heard the news that Boyle was injured moments before the Cougs' season opener vs. Utah State, he knew that this was his moment to shine. As he prepared for his first career field goal, punter and holder Nick Haberer looked up at him, giving him a look that said now's the time! Janikowski seized the moment and from then on, the pair knew that it was their time to take the placekicker job and run with it.
The Step Brothers-like duo grew to be friends when they were kicked out of their previous home, forced to move into a home with only one available room and slept feet across from one another to save money on rent. They have supported one another through broken feet, countless movie nights, and many "dom-runs" that have nourished a friendship filled with trust. Their special team's unit bond differentiates them from other Pac-12 special units. The uniqueness and brotherhood the two have radiates on the field and feeds the success they've just begun to tap into this season.
After connecting on 14 -of-17 field goals this season, Janikowski was rewarded by being named All-Pac-12 First Team.
Dean's hard work was met with reward when, in a team meeting, Head Coach Jake Dickert surprised him with a full-ride scholarship. Like a scene out of a movie, he was picked up by his teammates and lifted in the air as the team celebrated the milestone he had worked years for.
"It was the biggest sigh of relief! It was so nice to see my hard work pay off and go from a walk-on to a scholarship kid," he said.
Janikowski plans to keep this season's momentum rolling by continuing the All-Pac-12 First Team tradition and dreams of earning the Lou Groza Award, awarded annually to the nation's top kicker.