Carson Bruener is one of five legacy players who turn up on the University of Washington football roster, but just one of two not asked to match what his dad did in Husky Stadium.
Depending how you look at it, Bruener might have it tougher than the rest of them, who include Sam Huard, Jaxson Kirkland, Meki Pei and Zeke Pelluer. He not only plays a radically different position than his tight-end father, ending up on the other side of the ball on defense, he's also changed positions after becoming a Husky — from inside linebacker to an outside rusher assignment.
For spring practice, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound freshman spent much of his time in the background, studying his position, visible only when he stole a legacy pass from Huard near the end of the 15 workouts. He has the reputation of being a smart player.
“Coaches told me early in my recruiting process that they valued my mind,” Carson Bruener said.
Going down the roster in numerical order, this is another of our post-spring assessments of all of the Husky talent at hand, gleaned from a month of observations, as a way to keep everyone engaged during the offseason.
Bruener wears No. 42, a number he shares with his offensive opposite, walk-on redshirt freshman tight end Carson Smith, or half of what his father answered to, first No. 81 and then 85.
No matter what position Bruner pursued, trying to live up to his father's Husky exploits just wasn't going to happen.
Mark Bruener played immediately as a true freshman as the backup tight end for the 1991 national championship team. He had one touchdown catch, a 5-yarder from Billy Joe Hobert against Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
In his second season, the elder Bruener became a starter and he again had just one scoring catch, this one coming in the Rose Bowl on an 18-yarder from Mark Brunell.
Mark Bruener finished his UW career with regular-season totals of 90 receptions for 1,012 yards and 4 TDs. He started 34 of 46 Husky games before playing 14 seasons in the NFL.
Carson Bruener, a 3-star recruit who also was pursued by Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin, Colorado, WSU, Arizona, California, Boise State and Northwestern, made his dad proud by simply picking the UW as his college destination.
“For our son to say that that’s what he would like to do and that’s where he would like to play college football was extremely exhilarating for both my wife and I, and for our entire family,” Mark Bruener told the Seattle Times.
The younger Bruener, who averaged 12 tackles per game as a senior at Redmond High School in the Seattle suburbs, will settle in and learn the outside linebacker role as he shares in one of the most competitive position rooms on the team.
Of the other legacy players, Huard is following in the quarterback footsteps of his father Damon and uncle Brock; Kirkland was an offensive guard, same as his dad Dean, before moving to tackle; Pei is a safety similar to his father Meki, who also played linebacker; and Pelluer is a tight end now whereas his father Steve was a Husky quarterback.
Husky coach Jimmy Lake was asked if legacy standing favors a would-be Husky in any manner in obtaining a scholarship.
"No, it really doesn't," he said. "It all comes back to the film."
Coming to a theater near you: The Carson Bruener Story.
Bruener's 2021 Outlook: Projected reserve outside linebacker
UW Service Time: None
Individual Honors: None
Pro prospects: 2025 second-day NFL draftee
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