Washington defensive back Austin Joyner and defensive end Jared Pulu will both medically retire, head coach Chris Petersen announced Thursday.
Joyner, a redshirt junior, has suffered repeated concussions throughout his football career, most recently against Arizona State. He’s retiring on advice from UW’s team doctors.
Pulu has long been dealing with a rare issue involving his kidneys, Petersen said.
“Those are hard things,” Petersen said. “They’re in great care right now so they’ll stay with us and always be a part of us.”
UW will honor the scholarships for Pulu and Joyner. Both will remain involved with the team, Petersen said, whether that means helping in the athletic department or working in another area of interest.
Joyner played in the first four games of the season, recording six tackles. He played in 29 games in his Husky career, finishing with 56 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Joyner was heavily recruited as a running back and a defensive back out of high school. He chose the Huskies over offers from Washington State and Boise State, among others.
While it’s difficult to watch players retire for medical reasons, Petersen said it shows progress in football. Joyner’s retirement, in particular, wouldn’t have happened even eight years ago.
“Guys are on top of this where it’s like, ‘OK, how many (concussions) has he had? How serious is this?’” Petersen said. “And everybody’s hyper-sensitive to this situation, which I think is a good thing. The doctors are on that stuff very closely.”
Petersen said that change has trickled down all the way to the high school level.
“It’s all about the shoulder,” Petersen said. “Austin was a running back in high school, so I think even the ball carriers are being trained a little differently. For a handful of years, guys just put their head down and crashed into guys. That’s not what we’re teaching.
“There’s still some things that happen that are not coached, but I just think it’s much different now. We’ll continue to work on it. All coaches will.”
Pulu, a redshirt junior who recently earned a scholarship, hasn’t played in any games this season after playing in 10 games in 2017.
The Huskies planned for Pulu to be a contributor on the defensive line. But because his situation has been ongoing, Petersen said the younger linemen have gotten meaningful reps in practice, rotating nicely between the defense and the scout team.
Pulu played in 16 games in his career, recording seven tackles.
“The good thing is he’s close to being graduated and we still got him until he gets graduated,” Petersen said. “That’s the primary reason those guys are here. He’s got a great attitude. He’s helping us out there with coaching and most other things.”
Petersen also offered an update on redshirt junior linebacker DJ Beavers, who has yet to see any action since the season-opener against Auburn.
UW originally thought Beaver’s injury would be a short-term issue, Petersen said, which was why he was originally classified as week to week.
“The whole thing, starting the first time, we didn’t think it would take this long to heal him up,” Petersen said. “We’re hopefully getting him back soon.”