Tuli Letuligasenoa possesses the longest surname — all 13 letters and six syllables of it — of anyone on the University of Washington football team. Also, quite possibly, the shortest fuse.
Mix in some nimble dance moves, and you have a major influencer for the current collection of Huskies who are projected to rank comfortably among the nation's top 20 and be a factor in the Pac-12 Conference championship race.
No player impacted the outcome of the short four-game pandemic season of 2020 than Letuligasenoa.
The defensive tackle wasn't available for nearly 75 percent of it and it showed.
Now he's back.
As opposing teams enjoyed rare rushing success against the UW last fall, Letuligasenoa sat out the first two games, drew a couple of snaps against Utah and appeared noticeably rusty when he received the go-ahead to start the first college game of his career in a lone loss to Stanford.
No player will be more key to the success of the coming Husky season than this 6-foot-2, 310-pound sophomore from Concord, California.
Letuligasenoa is the enforcer. Vocally and physically. He's mean when he has to be, silly when it's appropriate.
He's the Husky heartbeat, temper tantrum and dance-contest winner, all wrapped into one.
"He's very, very passionate and obviously a very good football player," Husky coach Jimmy Lake said of Tuli. "He brings a lot of emotion to the defense and now he's actually even better at keeping his poise. He was probably one of the main ones I had to hold back a few times during training camp last year. But I love those guys who bring the energy and the juice."
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.
Letuligasenoa wears 91 when he's tackling and berating opponents, and when he's showing off his darting dance steps to a Michael Jackson song, such as he did late in Husky spring practice. In the above video, note how many teammates follow his lead and shake their booties.
The Huskies simply can't afford to go without this guy as they did during the COVID-19 scramble of a season.
With defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike and edge rusher Joe Tryon — half of the UW front wall and two of the first 41 players taken in the NFL draft — opting out, the Huskies needed Letuligasenoa to do what others before him had done. Make a seamless transition to defensive anchor.
Instead he sat out and the other edge rusher Ryan Bowman soon joined him on the sideline with virus issues, and the Huskies suddenly were vulnerable to the run.
Letuligasenoa demonstrated his fearsome presence during a spring practice when outside linebacker Jordan Lolohea and center Corey Luciano got into it, going from harmless shoves to violent roundhouse swings.
Spotting this entanglement, Letuligasenoa came running and crashed hard into Luciano, leaving him crumpled on the ground. He was like a grizzly bear protecting his cub. Wisely, there was no response from Luciano.
Letuligasenoa also was the first and the loudest to object to running back Jay'Veon Sunday's high-stepping through the defense early in the spring. When Sunday paid the price by getting leveled and fumbling, the defensive tackle was one of the first to leave the sideline and surround the freshman and berate him.
He plays with a glint in his eye, much like John Belushi's Bluto character in the Animal House film, seemingly always ready to lead everyone out the door kicking and screaming.
Football-wise, Letuligasenoa looks fit and strong, down 10 pounds to 310 by the end of spring practice. In the ensuing Husky combine, he finished tied for the third-best on the team in the hang clean with a 345-pound hoist.
As fall camp fast approaches, Huskies right and left are being singled out for preseason All-American honors and All-Pac-12 recognition. They're mentioned on nearly every national position watch list.
Letuligasenoa is not one of them. After all, he played just one full game last November. People don't know yet what he can do.
However, give him 12 outings this fall, or a full dance card, and the defensive tackle should impress with his nimble steps.
Tuli's 2021 Outlook: Projected defensive-tackle starter
UW Service Time: Played in 16 games, started 1
Stats: 28 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack
Individual Honors: Not yet
Pro prospects: 2024 second-day NFL draftee
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