Everyone's replaceable on the University of Washington football team, aren't they?
Ah, better stop there.
Losing senior cornerback Elijah Molden at this juncture would have been pushing the limits.
If you haven't noticed, this Husky program has gone through far more turnover than is the norm over the past nine months — waving good bye to its head coach, offensive coordinator, tight-ends coach, starting quarterback, the usual graduating seniors and an excessive amount of underclassmen once last season ended and throughout the postponement.
Molden is still here, though.
For multiple reasons, the senior cornerback from West Linn, Oregon, is the one guy the UW couldn't afford to part with during the team pivot to new leadership and in dealing with the ongoing disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Molden was the team's best player in 2019. He was the heart and soul of the Husky defense last season. He was the Las Vegas Bowl MVP, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection and a preseason All-America pick.
While no one would have faulted him for leaving early for the NFL such as the others, he's been applauded for coming back to finish his UW tenure and help launch the Jimmy Lake coaching regime.
"He's an excellent leader for us," Lake said. "I think he's learning about himself during this pandemic. For all the plays he's going to make in the field for us, which I know he's going to do, he's more important in the locker room for us."
In typical fashion for him, Molden brings a straight-forward approach to what he does. No sugar-coating. No dodging
Last season, the competitor in him remarked how it took him longer than he wanted to earn a starting job and get on the field more.
On Tuesday, Molden was asked about his personal development as a UW football player. His answer was brutally honest and confident.
"This offseason I've improved the most," Molden said. "My freshman year, I was terrible. My sophomore year, I was like a little better, but still bad. I felt like last year I was pretty good. I think this year I can be great, though."
As everyone turns to a seven-game Husky season, Lake feels fortunate to have Molden leading the team onto the field in November and setting the tone for others to follow.
The NFL, which first employed the cornerback's father, Alex, no doubt tried to convince him to leave with Tryon and Onwuzurike, but it will have to wait.
"He's extremely important to us," Lake said. "It took a lot of time in the decision-making process. He's obviously a player who could have left after the bowl game last year. That's how good he is."
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