Thursday, January 10, 2013
Local UW legend returns home
By Mason Kelley
Marques Tuiasosopo knows what it means to be a local kid who made the decision to play for the university in his hometown.
He knows what it is like to step onto the Husky Stadium turf in front of 70,000 fans as a member of a nationally ranked program. He understands what it means to lead the Huskies to a Rose Bowl victory.
Marques Tuiasosopo, the last QB to lead the Huskies to a top 10 ranking, returns to Washington as an assistant coach and key recruiter.
Tuiasosopo, recently hired away from UCLA to coach quarterbacks at his alma mater, was the last quarterback to lead Washington to a top 10 ranking. He helped the Huskies win the 2001 Rose Bowl, which was also the last season the program won more than eight games.
He links Washington’s past with its future.
“Hopefully, I’m someone these prospects here in the state of Washington can see first-hand,” Tuiasosopo said. “Here’s a guy who grew up in the area. Here’s a guy that decided to go to the University of Washington and succeeded.”
Tuiasosopo considers his new role with the Huskies an opportunity to give back to the university that helped propel him to this point. He said he wakes up every morning “fired up” to go to work.
“It’s just like I’m helping my own cause here, being a Husky,” he said. “Before I was doing it because I loved coaching. I loved teaching young men, giving them direction within the game of football. Now I get to help the school that gave so much to me, a degree, an opportunity to go play in the NFL and four great years of my life.”
In addition to working with Washington’s quarterbacks, Tuiasosopo will play a prominent role in the Huskies’ recruiting efforts. During his time at UCLA, he recruited the Northwest, but his territory with UW has yet to be defined.
Wherever he ends up focusing his attention, he will be a valuable asset to in-state recruiting.
“The program, as we go out and look for the best guys, has always been built on the best Washington state players staying and playing for the Huskies,” he said. “Hopefully, when they see me, that is what resonates with them.
“I’ve developed relationships with a lot of coaches in the area and I’ve known a lot of these same coaches for a long time. Some have coached against me. Some have coached me. It’s just an easy thing for me to come in and help out.”
After investing a lot of time with UCLA commit Myles Jack (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), Tuiasosopo should have an immediate impact as the linebacker tries to make his final decision.
“He was really heavily involved in my recruitment and everything,” Jack said recently. “He was pretty much the person that got me to go to UCLA. It has a big impact on me, because he recruited me.”
As recruits become more accessible through recruiting sites and social media, prominent programs throughout the country have infiltrated Washington’s back yard to pull some of the state’s top talent.
“There’s a lot of talent, obviously,” said Tuiasosopo, who played high school football at Woodinville (Wash.). “With the Internet and social media, now everyone has a chance to see the type of football players that are here, the talent that’s been here -- that’s been here for a long time.”
Whether it was the nation’s No. 2 pocket passer Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) picking USC, offensive lineman Joshua Garnett (Puyallup, Wash./Puyallup) signing with Stanford in 2012 or cornerback KeiVarae Russell (Everett, Wash./Mariner) starting as a freshman for Notre Dame, some of the state’s top prospects have escaped.
When asked what it will take to make the Huskies the first choice for the state’s top talent in the future, Tuiasosopo said it is simple -- “You’ve got to win.”
“These kids, when they’re growing up, when they get into their formative years and they want to play football in college, if they’re a Seattle kid and Washington isn’t winning, that doesn’t excite you,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to win games and continue to excite these young men here in the state of Washington and in this region.”
If the program can get back to the point where it is consistently competing for Pac-12 titles, Tuiasosopo believes less local talent will leave the state.
“They don’t have to go anywhere, because anything they would ever need is here, right here in Seattle,” he said. “They can win here, and they can leave their mark.”
Tuiasosopo’s return to Washington has been a whirlwind. Shortly after accepting the job he started making the rounds at the various high school All-American games. He has already started to mesh with the rest of the coaching staff.
As he gets settled in, he has two primary goals: fit in and help out.
“I’m one of 10,” he said. “There are nine other coaches on our staff who love to recruit. When Steve hired me, he hired another guy who loves to recruit. I love to develop relationships and it’s something that excites me about this level. I don’t mind it at all. I love going out and traveling. I love meeting these young kids and going out and finding the right fit for the University of Washington.”