University of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian may not get to decide whether his star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is able to play in the team's August 31 season-opener against Boise State.
The head coach had been contemplating whether he should allow Seferian-Jenkins to play in the Huskies' first game of the season, after the star player was arrested in March and pleaded guilty in July to DUI.
Instead, the preseason All-American's availability is in limbo because he suffered a broken pinkie in his right hand during practice Monday evening. Seferian-Jenkins attended practice in uniform yesterday but did not participate.
“Austin's going to be out for quite a while,” Sarkisian told reporters following Tuesday's practice. “He came out with a good attitude and he's doing all the conditioning work and all the fundamental stuff from a footwork standpoint. But, he won't be catching balls here for a little while.”
Catching passes is what the 6-6, 266-pound Seferian-Jenkins does best. He caught 69 passes for 852 yards and led the Huskies with seven touchdown receptions last season, joining Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert and Stanford's Zach Ertz as finalists for the prestigious John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end. Eifert, whom the Cincinnati Bengals drafted in the first round in April, was the eventual winner despite considerably less production (44 catches for 624 yards and four touchdowns) than either Seferian-Jenkins or Ertz (69 catches for 898 yards and six scores), who was drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sarkisian did not elaborate on his star tight end's expected date of return. He's expected to provide an update later this week.
Missing significant time could put a dent in Seferian-Jenkins' draft stock. He already needs to answer questions about his choices off the field and needs to develop strength and aggression as an in-line blocker. Unique ball-skills and agility for a man of his size, however, makes him a tough matchup for defenders, which is why he currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 tight end potentially available for the 2014 NFL draft.