Bralen Trice is supposed to be good. Better than Joe Tryon, his position coach says. Which would make him really good.
While that might seem like hyperbole for a guy who hasn't played much, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Trice last Saturday offered an early glimpse of what he can do as a playmaking University of Washington edge rusher. It was historic.
Appearing in just his third game for the Huskies after opting out last season, the redshirt freshman from Phoenix, not yet a starter, came up with a play for the ages.
Trice pounced on a fumble created by teammate Faatui Tuitele, tucked the ball under his arm and, while looking over his shoulder a half-dozen times on the runback, rumbled 72 yards for a final touchdown in a convincing 52-3 victory over Arkansas State.
Once he reached the end zone, Trice entered the UW record book with the fourth-longest fumble return for a score in school history. His effort trailed the other runbacks by 1, 6 and 28 yards (see list below).
Trice joined a Husky stat category topped by linebacker Shaq Thompson, now one of the NFL's highest-paid defenders. In 2014, Thompson scored on a pair of UW fumble returns from 100 and 52 yards at California and against Illinois, which helped make him an All-American selection and a first-round draft pick.
In 1953, UW linebacker James Noe returned a Colorado fumble 77 yards at Husky Stadium for an instant score. He later became a Seattle municipal and superior court judge.
In 1956, Don McCumby was a big tackle who made an unlikely play, stealing an errant Stanford lateral by the great quarterback John Brodie (making it a fumble) and chugging 73 yards for a Husky touchdown in Palo Alto, California. He played in the CFL and became a drug-store executive.
To join this opportunistic Husky group, Trice found a football lying on the turf in front of him that was separated from Arkansas State quarterback Layne Hatcher by a crunching tackle from Tuitele.
In one smooth scooping motion, Trice gathered up the ball and took off running up the sideline to the east end zone. No opponent came near him. Crossing the goal line, he dropped the football while putting a little spin on it. Teammates escorted him back to the bench. He looked a little winded.
Trice comes off the bench for the UW and is battling for steady game time. He's still trying to live up to that heady Joe Tryon comparison.
Come to think of it, Tryon, a rookie outside linebacker now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, never went 72 yards to score for the Huskies.
UW LONGEST TD FUMBLE RETURNS
1. Shaq Thompson, 100 yards, California, 2014
2. James Noe, 77 yards, Colorado, 1953
3. Don McCumby, 73 yards, Stanford, 1956
4. Bralen Trice, 72 yards, Arkansas State, 2021
5. Brandon Wellington, 69 yards, BYU, 2019
6. Greg Carothers, 55 yards, Oregon, 2003
7. Marcus Peters, 53 yards, Colorado, 2013
8. tie, Shaq Thompson, 52 yards, Illinois, 2014
8. tie, Gordy Guinn, 52 yards, TCU, 1971
10, tie, Justin Glenn, 51 yards, Stanford, 2009
10, tie, Fletcher Jenkins, 51 yards, Oregon State, 1979
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