The return of Jordan Paopao as Washington’s tight ends coach completed Chris Petersen’s staff. Paopao said Tuesday that’s “unbelievably fired up” to be back at UW for a fourth season.
(Can you describe the coaching transition in December and how you guys were able to get the team prepared for the bowl game?) Talking to Coach Tui, it was an unbelievable deal for him just to be able to rally the seniors, and then it was a testament to the core group of seniors — Keith (Price), Sean (Parker), the guys who have been around here for such a long time and their ability to reach out to the younger players and really buy into the message. It was an unbelievable deal.
(So what has the transition been like the last week or so with Chris Petersen and this new staff?) Working with these guys, the transition’s been — I would say almost seamless. Just because the group that Coach Pete’s gathered here, they’re awesome guys. Great football coaches. And I’ve become a popular man myself just because I’ve been able to help them out about where to live and those sorts of things. I’ve become the wise man all of a sudden.
(What does it mean for you to be able to stay on here?) Being that it is my fourth year here, with the possibility of not being able to come back that was something that kind of hit home, quite honestly. Because I love the school, I love the community and just being able to know everybody associated with the football program was something I was unbelievably fired up to come back to. Really, the opportunity to work with Coach Pete is something that was an unbelievable deal.
(Have you had a chance to talk to Austin Seferian-Jenkins at all?) I have not talked to him since he left after the bowl game. But like I said earlier, you don’t replace an Austin Seferian-Jenkins. You really don’t. But at the end of the day, I’m excited about our group because we have a core group of young guys who have playing experience. They’ve won big ballgames before and they have the understanding that they have a clean slate. It’s an open competition for all those guys, and I think they’re going to bring out the best in each other.
(How have the players handled this transition?) I think one of the cool things is, we had a team meeting the other night and the team’s energy, their eagerness to start spring football is really, really cool. So I think it’s an unbelievably exciting time for everybody involved.