The Doctor is In: Huskies' Ulofoshio Talks Climbing, COVID, Football

The UW inside linebacker took a spring moment to discuss a variety of subjects.

Dr. Edefuan Ulofoshio sat down with his 12:45 appointment on Saturday afternoon, always so relaxed and reassuring with his bedside manner, and he prescribed a number of thoughtful remedies.

OK, he's not a practicing physician just yet, rather an earnest pre-med student.

And, yes, he was addressing a room full of reporters, not patients in need of urgent care, though it's sometimes hard to tell the difference.

Ulofoshio also remains this very determined University of Washington inside linebacker who has gone from walk-on player without a scholarship to bona fide All-American candidate.

Yet the ongoing medical thing — studying, playing and living in the midst of a global pandemic — has never been far from him as he goes about his daily routine.

The guy they call Eddie doesn't have any problem running into someone at full speed on a college football field. Yet there was a time not so long ago when this fearless player felt uneasy just walking into a grocery store because of the ongoing pandemic.

"It was trying not to get COVID," he said. "When I went to the grocery store, I would be so paranoid. It was like what if I touched an apple and you know? That was like a constant state. Like I have to eat. I have to go get gas. What if that one encounter would take me out for two weeks? That was the hardest part — was to avoid it."

At least Ulofoshio has more information available to him than most people about a highly contagious virus that has swept across the world, killed hundreds of thousands of people and altered everyone's way of life. 

Understanding COVID has been part of his college education, his academic curriculum, his homework.

"It's kind of crazy thinking about it, especially being in public health," he said. "What we're going through right now is exactly what we're learning in class."

It's made Ulofoshio reconsider the direction he wants to take as this medical person. Rather than treat people one on one, he's contemplated pursuing something on a much broader scale, where he would share in experiments and clinical trials that might help entire populations.

"To me, it's kind of changed my thinking," he said. 

Meantime, amid all of the medical journals and stethoscopes, Ulofoshio is simultaneously a football player and a good one. He's a returning second-team All-Pac-12 selection and one of the leaders for a UW defense offering plenty of possibilities for the coming season.

In Saturday's spring practice, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound junior was pleased to hear crowd reaction for the first time in nearly a year and a half after coming out of the tunnel for games last season to what he described as "crickets."

Ulofoshio, who had 18 tackles against Stanford last season, second most in school history, is trying to be even more studious in breaking down opposing offensive tendencies and being much more vocal as a defensive leader.

He has two or three Husky seasons to make himself into an NFL prospect, a livelihood that could delay his medical pursuits. 

With so many careers ahead of him, one that Ulofoshio won't be chasing down is postal worker.

OK, how about a hiker ascending the notorious Mailbox Peak, in the Cascade Range outside of Seattle?

Last sumer, Ulofoshio was encouraged by the Husky strength and fitness team to test the nine-mile, round-trip climb that reaches an elevation of 4,822 feet. That's like 15 football fields stacked one on top of each other going straight up. 

He took on this alpine experience with fellow starting inside linebacker Jackson Sirmon. Or at least he watched Sirmon turn into a mountain goat and leave him behind. He caught up with his teammate and completed the climb, which, of course, has a battered mailbox planted at the highest point.

"It was super steep, super hard," Ulofoshio said. "I kind of had like a life-changing moment, because I realized only I can get myself up this mountain and, if I keep going step by step, I'll be able to get to the top. It took me a little while."

Eddie felt like he'd really accomplished something. Yet world-changing physician and game-changing linebacker will suffice for him.

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven

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