Ethan Garbers played in Husky Stadium last Saturday night, going practically unnoticed. He caught four snaps for the UCLA Bruins, holding on three extra-point kicks and a field goal.
His return to Seattle had to be a surreal moment for him.
A year ago, he stood on the University of Washington sideline, as a true freshman quarterback not stirring for four Husky games during the ultra-shortened pandemic season.
In a handful of months in the city, nothing really clicked for the younger brother of California quarterback Chase Garbers, a 4-star recruit who had led Corona del Mar High in Newport Beach, California, to a 16-0 record as a senior.
He lost the UW's four-player starting quarterback competition to redshirt freshman Dylan Morris, a position battle that was awarded for the best decision-making.
The season-opening, UW-Cal game pitting him and Chase as opponents was canceled by the pandemic.
Most of all, young Garbers, one of the few students living on campus because of restrictions during the height of the virus outbreak, got homesick.
Husky coaches, who named Garbers the UW's offensive scout team most valuable player, did everything to try and convince him to stay, but he made up his mind and left.
“I definitely learned a lot because of the whole COVID thing and all that,” Garbers told the Los Angeles Times. “It really opened my eyes.”
UCLA and coach Chip Kelly barely lost out to him in the initial round of recruiting and gladly welcomed a reprieve.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Garbers currently is the Bruins' backup quarterback to senior Dorian Thompson-Robinson and being groomed as next year's starter, where he could have up to three seasons to play.
The Huskies initially blocked his transfer to UCLA, but the Pac-12 eased the inter-conference transfer restrictions, enabling him to play right away.
He's thrown and completed two passes so far while handling his holding duties.
Coming to the UW, Garbers committed to the Chris Petersen coaching staff, only to see the former Husky leader abruptly retire at the end of the 2019 season.
He joined new coach Jimmy Lake's team, but he decided the team emphasis and being 1,200 miles from home was not for him and he entered the transfer portal.
Kelly and his staff were only too happy to get him on the rebound and welcome him into the Bruins program finally.
Garbers ultimately found he wanted to play for a head coach with an offensive background, where Kelly qualified but not Lake. He's also close to home now.
“I ultimately ended up in the right spot,” Garbers said in the Los Angeles Times interview. “It was a little jagged on the way there, but it just worked out.”
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