Offered a scholarship by every Pac-12 school other than USC and Oregon, UCLA freshman Myles Jack was a hot commodity his senior season at Bellevue High School. He starred at linebacker and running back for a perennial 3A power. The University of Washington, Florida State, Georgia, and South Carolina wanted him. He spurned all by going to UCLA to play for coach Jim Mora.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian was among the rejected, and he didn’t have much to say Monday about Jack being named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week in his first game playing linebacker and running back, and just before Washington travels to the Rose Bowl to play the Bruins Friday night.
“Oh yeah, he’s definitely talented enough to do that,” Sarkisian said Monday when asked if he envisioned Jack playing both ways during recruitment.
Saturday Jack ran six times for 120 yards in UCLA’s 31-26 win against Arizona. The video highlight was a 66-yard touchdown dash that surprised many, though Sarkisian didn’t acknowledge as much.
“I’m not in their coach’s offices. I’m not in their locker room, so I don’t know,” he said.
Through UCLA’s first eight games, Jack was “only” a game-changing linebacker as a true freshman. Saturday against the Wildcats, he tallied eight solo tackles. At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, he was a force on offense and defense, a rare feat.
“Myles is obviously a very physical runner,” Sarkisian said. “Different style. They’re not running necessarily different plays. They give you a few different formations there, but he’s a physical player.”
The game between the Huskies (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12) Bruins (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) in Pasadena will be on national TV (6 p.m., ESPN2). If Saturday and the recent comments from UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone were indicators, Jack’s move to offense wasn’t an experiment.
“He’s such a different back from what they have,” Sarkisian said. “Their other guys are a little more quicker, other scat-back types.”
Mora landed Jack based mostly on a coincidence. During Mora’s single season (2009) as Seahawks coach, his son, Ryder, played on the same Seattle youth football team that included Jack’s younger brother, Jahlen.
The eventual coup came down to what typically makes the difference in recruiting 18-year-old high school athletes trying to make the important decision of their lives.
Which might account for why Sarkisian was brief when asked if Seattle’s rainy winters had any influence on Jack’s decision to spurn the UW, and everyone else, for UCLA.
“If you can’t play in the rain, I don’t know what’s going to happen if you get drafted by the Seahawks,” Sarkisian said.
UW offense moving up
After UW blitzed Colorado 59-7 Saturday, amassing 628 total yards, the Huskies climbed most national categories on offense. They are 10th in yards per game (515.9), tied for 24th with Oregon State in points (37.2) and 25th in passing yards (286.9).
Running back Bishop Sankey mirrored the success. His 143 rushing yards against the Buffaloes moved him to third in rushing yards (1,305) and helped him surpass Greg Lewis to move into fourth place among the school’s all-time rushing leaders.
Final stretch will be telling
The Huskies were like a bully beating up the smallest kid on the playground in consecutive home wins against Cal and Colorado. Each opponent was in an early stage of what might be an extended rebuilding process.
UW’s next contests against UCLA and Oregon State, both on the road, should provide a more accurate measuring stick.
“I think this month is about the next step, quite honestly,” Sarkisian said. “We think we have a great opportunity to close out the season the way we’re capable of doing it and this is the next game on the schedule to make that happen.”