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December 15, 2009 at 8:58 PM

A look at past UW early entry players

Figuring there was still a lot of time left until Jake Locker made his stay-or-go decision, I worked up a chart of past Husky players who left early for the NFL.
The point was to see how it had paid off for past UW early entry candidates, not that there is really a lot of similarity in any of those decisions and that faced by Locker — only two of the previous 11 Huskies to leave early were QBs and one (Billy Joe Hobert) was pretty much forced into the decision.
But what the heck? Lots of space to fill until UW plays a game again, so figured I’d pass it along.
So, here’s the list of other Huskies to leave early with name, team and round in which they were selected, as well as a comment:

1990, FS Eugene Burkhalter, not drafted — After being declared academically ineligible, declared for draft, but wasn’t taken and never played in NFL. Actually made a brief effort to get his eligibility back but was denied.
1992, DT Steve Emtman, Indianapolis (first) — First overall pick in draft, NFL career marred by injuries but made millions.
1993 , QB Billy Joe Hobert, L.A. Raiders (third) — Left early after the school declared him ineligible after news of potential violations surface.
1996, FS Lawyer Milloy, New England (second) — Still in the NFL, if that’s what you call the Seahawks these days.
1997, RB Corey Dillon, Cincinnati (second) — Had a long and good career.
1998, C Olin Kreutz, Chicago (third) — Still in the NFL, if that’s what you call the Bears these days.
1998, G Benji Olson, Tennessee (fifth) — Lingering back issues led to decision to leave early. But ended up having a long NFL career.
1999, QB Brock Huard, Seattle (third) — Got a brief chance with the Seahawks before injuries helped derail his career after six years. Flirted with coming out after his redshirt sophomore season in 1997 but decided to return.
2001, S Hakim Akbar, New England (fifth) — Auto accident during rookie season helped slow his NFL career.
2002, TE Jerramy Stevens, Seattle (first) — Has had a star-crossed career but still in the NFL.
2003, WR Reggie Williams, Jacksonville (first) — Out of NFL this year after running into legal and personal problems, but hard to argue with an $11 million signing bonus on his original deal.
Of the guys on this list, Burkhalter is probably the only one who made a really bad decision. Akbar was deeply impacted by the injury to Curtis Williams, one reason he left when he did, and hard to tell how much he would have been helped by returning. Maybe Dillon gets drafted higher if he returns — no question UW’s fortunes in 1997 might have been a lot different had he come back (as well as those of coach Jim Lambright). But hard to argue with how his career worked out. Olson also maybe was a higher pick if he returned, but his back — he missed three games late his final season — helped hasten his departure.
A few other Huskies seriously thought about leaving before coming back — most notable that I recall are DT Larry Tripplett after the 2000 season, Huard in 1997 and Cody Pickett after 2002 (he’s never said he really thought about it but it was rumored, and Rick Neuheisel said a few times Pickett was considering it).
What may be most telling is that UW hasn’t had an early entry guy since 2003, another indicator of how Washington’s fates fell in the period since then. That they again had a player who could seriously consider it, and that he came back, indicates how things may once again be turning rightward.



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