Hau’oli Jamora will make his first college start Saturday when the Washington Huskies travel to Tucson to face the Arizona Wildcats.
If it has the true freshman defensive end feeling anxious, it’s difficult to tell. He hasn’t said as much.
But then again, following the rules set by head coach Steve Sarkisian regarding freshmen speaking to the media, exactly what Jamora thinks or feels about his first start remains a mystery. He is still off limits to talking to reporters.
And it’s difficult to get a read by watching the native of Laie, Hawaii. He’s always practiced with a fierce intensity and tireless motor since arriving at Montlake.
So for now, Jamora will let his play and his teammates and coaches do the talking for him.
In last week’s 35-34 double-overtime win over Oregon State, Jamora played perhaps the best game of his brief career, registering five tackles, two tackles for loss and 11/2 sacks, seeing more action after Talia Crichton went down with a knee injury.
“Jamora came in and stepped up and made some plays for us,” defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu said.
Defensive coordinator Nick Holt has said for the last month that Jamora was improving.
“He’s just doing everything we thought he was capable of doing,” Holt said. “When you get snaps, you gain confidence. The game gets slower and that’s why it looks like he’s playing faster.”
And while Crichton will be out at least two weeks, Jamora has earned the start.
“A real effort guy,” Sarkisian said of Jamora. “He exudes effort. I don’t know if he’s the most talented kid, but he plays extremely hard.”
Jamora plays the game so hard, and so relentlessly, he’s drawn comparisons to another Hawaiian defensive lineman that had all kinds of success for the Huskies – Daniel Te’o-Nesheim.
“It’s really almost weird how much like Te’o he is,” free safety Nate Williams said. “And we obviously know the amazing player Te’o was, so hopefully he’ll be able to play like Te’o once he’s a little older.”
The similarities go beyond their shared Hawaiian heritage.
“When you look at him on the field, he has that look kind of like Daniel had ... of being a beast,” linebacker Cort Dennison said. “He’s fearless, he’s competitive and he has that mindset he’s not going to let that guy across from him beat him.”
But it goes beyond that.
“I’d say as a player, his demeanor is kind of the same – he’s kind of goofy,” safety Nate Fellner said. “But he’s really a good competitor. And he’s got that motor like Daniel – that never stops.”
But it’s more than just playing hard. It is understanding and learning how to play at a higher level.
“That’s the thing about him, he has such a willingness to learn,” Dennison said.
The Jamora love just doesn’t stop.
“He plays the game the way the way you want it to be played – with tremendous effort, with passion,” Sarkisian said. “He’s not always right; he’s still a true freshman. He makes his mistakes. But I think we’re continually trying to get that across to our football team and finding the guys that can play, spotlighting them and putting them out there. Hau’oli is definitely one of them.”
What’s scary is that Jamora will only get better.
“He just has to get bigger and strong,” Holt said. “He’s going to be a great player for us.”
Quarterback Jake Locker was limited in practice Tuesday, taking only a handful of snaps. Sarkisian said it was similar to last Tuesday when they allowed Locker to get some added rest. ... Freshman offensive linemen Erik Kohler practiced for the second straight day after missing time with mono. Kohler worked mainly as the second team right tackle. ... Receiver Devin Aguilar (hip) and running back Johri Fogerson (hip) were also limited in practice.