As a standing, distracted target, California quarterback Ross Bowers had no chance.
Late in the first half, the Golden Bears were desperate to put up some points. The offense drove near midfield.
Bowers dropped back to pass and set his feet right when University of Washington outside linebacker Tevis Bartlett barreled around the edge.
Seeing an opening to Bowers’ legs, Bartlett went low.
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The Huskies’ junior took the quarterback down, wrestler-style, for a 13-yard loss.
That replay seems to be happening quite often for the 6-foot-2, 234-pounder from Cheyenne, Wyoming, who not only leads the Huskies in tackles for loss (7 1/2 ), he ranks third in the Pac-12 — and 28th nationally.
“He goes one speed,” UW coach Chris Petersen said, “He’s really a tough guy.”
And Bartlett has no problem relying on some of the tricks he picked up in wrestling.
“There are definitely parts or times the wrestling kind of comes out because it is second nature, and is something I did forever,” Bartlett said. “Being able to tackle guys, hand fight with linemen and flip my hips on the pass rush is similar to wrestling.”
And a sport he almost chose as his future.
Bartlett was not only a four-time state champion in Wyoming, he was a two-time national high school champion as well.
At East High School, he finished his career with an 189-5 record, winning his final 106 matches in a row.
But Bartlett was also a standout dual-threat quarterback on the football field, named the state’s Gatorade player of the year in 2013, passing for 1,521 yards and 13 touchdowns, and adding another 1,400 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
“It was kind of tough (to choose).” Bartlett said. “There were things we looked at as far as what I wanted to do in college, and where I kind of wanted to be.”
Ultimately, his “first love” – football – won out after he signed with the Huskies in 2015.
“I loved wrestling, too, but it wasn’t quite the same,” Bartlett said. “Maybe it was because we did it all the time, and football had that break. Football is also a lot of fun, and wrestling can be a thankless sport.”
Bartlett was also reminded of the perks of major college football after he talked to former Wyoming wrestler Shane Onufer, a friend of his who graduated from Auburn High School.
The two of them compared the merchandise each received from being in the NCAA Division I championships. Onufer said he got a couple of items, including a T-shirt. Bartlett got way more swag for playing in the Peach Bowl against Alabama.
“You look at the two sports, and it’s kind of tough to not look at all the extra stuff that comes with football,” Bartlett said.
That is not to say that Bartlett has given up on wrestling entirely. After the football season, he will return to Kentlake High School and Cedar Heights Middle School this winter for a third season as a volunteer assistant.
“It is a way to give back,” he said.