UW Football Primer: Josiah Bronson No Longer a Surprise Starter

Dan Raley

The Washington defense had two starters returning on defense last season when something unexpected happened once everyone went back to work.

Josiah Bronson made it one.

The 6-foot-3, 298-pound defensive tackle from Kent, Washington, surprisingly beat out Benning Potoa'e, relegating the senior to a reserve role for much of the season.

Bronson started 11 of 13 games for the Huskies and then received a bonus reward -- he was granted a sixth season of NCAA eligibility for 2020, making him one of nine returning starters.

"I ain't done yet," he tweeted out. "I got more."

Bronson is a hulking and an active defender who takes up a lot of space. He relieves the pressure on fellow senior Levi Onwuzurike, freeing up his teammate so much in 2019 that Levi was named was first-team All-Pac-12.

They'll be side by side again whenever college football is allowed to resume. Both possess pro potential, especially now that Bronson is fully committed to advancing his game, which wasn't always the case.

Coming out of Kentwood High School in suburban Seattle, Bronson was lightly recruited, choosing Temple over New Mexico. Washington wasn't interested. There was good reason.

"When I was in high school, I was a lazy guy," he conceded. "All the talent in the world and I never wanted to work."

Which is surprising, considering Bronson comes from a family of three football-playing brothers who have experienced varying degrees of success. The  others made things happen as collegians but received limited NFL opportunities.

Oldest brother John played tight end and defensive end for Penn State. In the pros, he logged three games over two seasons as a receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, bogged down by injuries.

Middle brother Demitrius Bronson began his college career as a running back for the UW before transferring to Eastern Washington and a more prominent role. He landed on practice squads for the Miami Dolphins and the Seattle Seahawks before turning to  professional wrestling.

Josiah might be the best of the siblings. He's had his own struggles, but overcome them. At Temple, he broke an ankle in his first intrasquad scrimmage and redshirted in 2015. He sat out the next season at the Philadelphia school and transferred when Owls coach Matt Rhule left for Baylor. 

Bronson landed at the UW as a walk-on without a scholarship, but worked to earn a full ride before the 2019 season and claim the starting job for the opener. 

He understood what was necessary to advance, retweeting the following from a Seattle athletic trainer, because it was something he did: "Never be comfortable with our current position because there's always someone ready to take your spot! Keep working hard and keep motivating yourself!"

Bronson got better the more he played, ringing up 3 tackles for loss and a sack collectively in consecutive games against Stanford and Arizona. He's shown as No. 90 at the end of the accompanying video, soaking up an Apple Cup victory.

As he deals with the cancellation of Husky spring practice, which was so important to his career progression last year, Bronson offers sound advice rather than seeks it. He recently tweeted the following message, which takes in consideration the pandemic scare but also life in general.

"God says I know it's tough, but stick to the plan."

SUMMARY: Bronson is just starting to show what he can do. Beating out Potoa'e was a significant accomplishment. He needs to keep going.

GRADE (1 to 5): The DL gets a 3, only because his track record is limited. His potential appears limitless. Could Bronson match Onwuzurike's performance up front?