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Letuligasenoa Received Individual Honors in 2021, But Didn't Feel Worthy

The veteran defensive tackle still feels responsible for the high opposing rushing totals.
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People usually have no trouble hearing Tuli Letuligasenoa whatsoever on the practice field.

Do some high-stepping or finger-pointing at the expense of  his University of Washington defense — Jay'Veon Sunday, remember? — and the words come pouring out of this fiercely proud Husky defensive tackle at a high volume, not for mixed company and definitely unrepeatable for this story.

Last season should have been a happier one for the 6-foot-1, 307-pound junior from Concord, California. 

After all, Letuligasenoa was one of nine UW players who were singled out for All-Pac-12 honors by the league coaches, one of five who received honorable-mention accolades.

However, the shoddy performance of the Huskies' run defense, which permitted an overly generous 193 yards rushing per game, and was one of the factors for an 4-8 season, ruined everything for him.

Asked about being singled out for recognition, Letuligasenoa began shaking his head, looking straight down and lowering his voice to where you struggled to hear him at all.

If he was religious, he was in confession now and without prodding he went over football sins rather than celebrate any positive attention directed to him.

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"I didn't do what I was supposed to do," Letuligasenoa said, barely audible. "We still didn't have the top run defense. That's my goal. Most guys who get nominated, I feel if it should be me, you have a top run defense. That goes on me."

While everyone on the Husky defensive unit should have been held responsible for the uncomfortably high opposing rushing totals, especially after Michigan piled up 343 yards and Oregon churned out 329, Letuligasenoa took it upon himself to feel miserable about it a full nine months later.

The good news for him is he has a demanding new coach in Inoke Breckterfield, to keep everyone honest and on point; some somewhat new pieces in 6-foot-6, 333-pound Ulumoo Ale, a converted offensive guard who appears to have survived an injury scare, and the promising Kuao Peihopa, who was injured much of his true freshman season in 2021 but is ready to go; and, most importantly, a returning All-Pac-12 honorable-mention recipient, which is him.

"Everybody remembers that feeling last year — I know I do — especially [it was] something you never want to put on film and have that feeling again," Letuligasenoa said. "In the offseason for us, we tried to put our best foot forward. That's all we could do."

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