Bookie Radley-Hiles Goes By the Book in Filling UW Role

The Oklahoma transfer had a big game against Arkansas State and then did his first media sit-down.

Brendan "Bookie" Radley-Hiles properly introduced himself to everyone at Husky Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Oh, what a nice, polite kid. 

Every other sentence was interspersed with "Yes, sir." 

Radley-Hiles was respectful at all times, a Bookie who goes by the book, that he could have been a Top Gun fighter pilot, full of plenty of swagger but without the Tom Cruise nonsense, rather than simply a University of Washington nickelback and a Oklahoma portal transfer.

For roughly three hours, the heavily bearded, 5-foot-9 defender made sure Arkansas State saluted him as he showed the Red Wolves around the place. 

He tackled the visitors a team-leading nine times, twice for lost yards, including a sack. 

He broke up a pass.

He came up with the Huskies' first turnover of the season, a fumble recovery good for a 3-yard return.

Afterward, Radley-Hiles made a bunch of new acquaintances while addressing Seattle reporters. Even though he's been in town for six months, this was his first media exchange because of the UW's stringent player access protocols.

An erstwhile California native who started for three seasons for Oklahoma's powerhouse program, beginning as a true freshman, BRH was left to explain his reason for finishing up with the Huskies as well as his ability to terrorize Arkansas State.

"Washington, why not?" he said. "Coach [Jimmy] Lake is a great guy with a great resume. Coach Will Harris, great guy, great resume. I just look forward to the opportunity to keep elevating my game, keep growing, and I felt Washington was the best place for it."

Yes, sir.

While coming to the UW for a deep defensive-back tutorial, which is something akin to what regular students do when pursuing graduate degrees, Radley-Hiles wasn't willing to compare his new school and his old one. It's all the same to him.

"Talent is talent and football players are football players," he said. "Guys who are tough and committed to their craft are all around the country."

He wasn't about to bite on whether he had any dissatisfaction over the UW's unexpected slow start when so much positive stuff was anticipated from the outset. He said that's life and you deal with it.

"I think every goal that we've made in the preseason, before the season, is still in front of us," BRH said. "I think that this group is coming together by the day. I think we're growing as men. I think we're still growing as football players. I'm very excited for this future and this team. Every goal we have in front of us is still in front of us."

Radley-Hiles is the first Oklahoma transfer to switch to the UW in three decades, since defensive tackle Tyrone Rodgers, another Californian and a starter for the Huskies' 1991 national championship team. He answers to his family-given nickname for no other reason than he might be so inquisitive.

He's one of the few to wear the UW's No. 44, a retired jersey now made available to him. He pulls it on to honor an older brother, Brandon Webb, who he never knew. Their birthdays are four days apart. Brandon was killed in a random shooting while riding in a car in Los Angeles four years before BRH was born. The older sibling had a football scholarship to Grambling State that sadly went unused.

"I kind of feel like I am my brother," Bookie said. "I live for him. That's 44 for me." 

In 15 minutes, the media members covering the UW gets a crash course on him like he's getting on Husky football over recent months. It's all so hurried.

His exalted Sooners football background seemingly should have given him an automatic path to a leadership role in Montlake. Yet he didn't come in like he owned the place.

Radley-Hiles, always so mindful of others, recognized he had to go through proper channels first, if not a certain initiation.

"To be completely honest with you sir, I'm a person where I have to earn my right to speak," he said. "I'm not a person who's going to come in here and act as if I know things more than this defense, more than this team. To be fully honest with you sir, my first two weeks here, I didn't want to say too much. I wanted to find my role on this team and rise to that occasion."

Radley-Hiles is doing that now. He's gotten better in each of his three games. As the Huskies bounce back and head into Pac-12 play, he's more confident, more productive, more accessible. You can still almost picture him flying an F-18 jet with a catchy call sign.

Top Gun. Top Dawg. Top down.

Yes sir.

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