Some of the Husky faithful scoffed when it was suggested recently that University of Washington cornerback Elijah Molden could have been used sooner as a starter, that he was ready to play from the outset.
Of course, that would have meant that an upperclassman, someone such as Jordan Miller now playing in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons, would have had to split time with him or move aside completely.
No slight to Miller at all, a player with considerable skills, but Molden is really, really good. This didn't just happen overnight either. The accolades keep coming as a pandemic-wary football season and his senior campaign approaches.
Second-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2018.
First-team All-Pac-12 last season.
Las Vegas Bowl most valuable player.
Promoted as a first-round NFL draft pick.
And then there's this little ditty, a telling stat compliments of College Football Focus, retweeted with some commentary from respected Portland print and radio talk-show journalist John Canzano:
Through number analysis, he's been pegged as the Pac-12's top slot corner coming in, no small praise.
The previous fan argument against using Molden right away was the UW coaches had to know what they're doing in determining lineups and shouldn't be questioned, that Molden was meant to be a reserve for his first two seasons.
Well, even good coaches aren't perfect in their play-calling or manpower decisions. Sometimes it's hard to get it absolutely right when you have an overabundance of good players to work with.
When there's excess talent at hand and it's close, coaches tend to reward the upperclassman as much to maintain team unity. They like to move players through the ranks in a systematic fashion. Nothing wrong with that.
Yet Molden seemingly has been that exception, somebody who was ready to play at a high level all along, somebody who admittedly simmered quietly while he did more watching than playing early on.
This is why some players transfer. Molden, to his credit, waited for his time to come and was ready when called. He still let his competitiveness show, ever so subtlety, when he was named as an all-conference player last season.
"It's really humbling because last year and my freshman year, those weren't realizing my goals," Molden said at the end of last season. "I didn't see it panning out the way I wanted it to."
He is now.