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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Husky recruit Pulu has standout game

EVERETT -- His face dripping with perspiration, his right hand dripping with blood, there was no question that West middle linebacker Andru Pulu had given his all in Saturday's East-West All-Star football game at Everett Memorial Stadium.

Pulu's team came up on the losing end of the 13-12 outcome, but it would be difficult -- foolish, actually -- to fault him for the defeat. In a game of standouts, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Pulu clearly stood out.

He finished with seven solo tackles and was the only player on either team to reach double digits in total tackles with 12. He also helped clog the line of scrimmage, which allowed teammates to make tackles, and he even swatted down an East pass in the fourth quarter.

"He is an awesome football player," said West head coach John Ondriezek, who coaches at Mariner High School. "He's an anchor on that defense. He knows where the ball is, and he goes and gets it.

"He plays very aggressively, but he's also a very disciplined football player. He's always going to be where he's supposed to be."

Moreover, Ondriezek said, "he's about as tough as anybody I've ever coached."

Pulu, a graduate of Federal Way High School, is headed to the University of Washington, where he will be part of the first recruiting class of new Husky coach Steve Sarkisian. Pulu previously committed to former UW coach Tyrone Willingham, and then reaffirmed his commitment after Sarkisian was hired in early December.

This summer, Pulu is spending four days a week in Seattle, working out informally with his new Husky teammates. He will be on campus for freshman orientation in July and later the start of preseason practices in August.

"I'm excited," said Pulu, who was the only UW scholarship recruit in Saturday's game. "I just want to get started. I'm ready for the season."

Linebacker recruits, along with freshmen in general, tend to redshirt in their first seasons at a Division I program. Most likely, that's what awaits Pulu, though UW coaches "are just telling me to work hard, and if I'm good enough I'll see some playing time," he said.

Physically and mentally, Pulu seems to be the prototype of a major-college middle linebacker. He certainly has the size and toughness to take on blockers and running backs, and he has the instinctive knack for always being around the football.

"He has great football sense," Ondriezek said, "and he covers ground from sideline to sideline. The Huskies have a great football player coming up at inside linebacker."

Pulu knows the Huskies have struggled in recent seasons -- the team went 11-37 in Willingham's four seasons, including 0-12 in 2008 -- but said he is confident of brighter days ahead.

"The program is going to be turned around," he said. "There's a new atmosphere around the whole team. Everybody is pumped up. Everybody is ready to get it turned around and get back to bowl games."

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