The University of Washington football team expects to have defensive tackle Ulumoo Ale ready to play for the season opener against Kent State on Sept. 3, but offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland will sit out the game, Husky coach Kalen DeBoer said on Saturday.
Kirkland, the two-time, All Pac-12 player who successfully petitioned the NCAA to return for a sixth college season, is being docked one game because of his situation without a full explanation given.
"I don't want to use the word suspension because he didn't do anything wrong," DeBoer said. "That's what they came back with. We appealed. That's it."
Ale suffered a lower-leg injury during Wednesday's practice, the first full day of contact for the Huskies, and had to be taken by a cart to the training room.
The situation looked bad, but apparently the junior from Tacoma didn't tear up a knee as was feared. Limiting the medical details, DeBoer said Ale would miss only a couple of weeks of practice and be available against Kent State.
By their dimensions, the 6-foot-7, 340-pound Kirkland and the 6-foot-6, 333-pound Ale are the two largest players on the Husky roster.
In a tank top and shorts, Kirkland didn't practice again on Saturday as the Huskies bring him along slowly after his offseason ankle surgery. He's expected back for the second game against Portland State on Sept. 10.
Sophomore Troy Fautanu, who has been starting at left guard, likely will move over to Kirkland's spot at left tackle, as he did for two games last fall.
Ale made the conversion from offensive guard to the defense and had been running with the No. 1 defense. He's dropped his weight from a high of 368 two seasons ago to be more mobile as a defender.
When he was injured, the Dempsey Indoor facility went deathly quiet as players crowded around Ale and dropped to one knee. Some prayed. Others made sure to tap the big man's shoulder before scrimmage resumed at the other end of the complex.
"The team, they just love him so much," DeBoer said. "The guys took it pretty hard. It hit us hard during practice. ... It's great to see him walking around already doing his thing."
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