Joe Tryon, who grew up in the shadows of Husky Stadium, on Thursday took another step into the football limelight, becoming an NFL No. 1 draft pick by going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 32nd selection.
From a lightly recruited raw talent in Seattle's suburban Renton who originally committed to rival Washington State, the 6-foot-5, 259-pound outside linebacker turned himself into a highly regarded pro prospect in just two seasons of game time for the University of Washington.
Congratulations were immediate from Husky coach Jimmy Lake and outside linebackers coach Ikaika Malloe, as well as from Tacoma edge-rusher recruit Jayden Wayne.
When COVID-19 delayed what would have been his junior season with the Huskies, Tryon opted out of college football last fall and dedicated himself to preparing for a long NFL career. He hasn't appeared in a game since the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State.
The Bucs were convinced he was ready to become a pro playmaker by taking him with the final pick of the first day of the draft, which was held before a huge outdoor crowd in Cleveland. Four edge rushers were taken ahead of him.
Several draft analysts had projected Tryon going in this very same slot that split the first and the second rounds. Asked about that a few weeks back, the defender said he didn't care if he went on the first day or not.
“I really don't mind where I'm drafted,” he said. “It's an honor to be in this position in the first place. What I really care about is landing on a good team that's going to use me to my best advantage. So it's not about how high I go. It's really the best place for me. I don't care if I'm in the first round or not.”
Tryon will be reunited with former Husky defensive tackles Vita Vea, a starter, and Benning Potoa'e, a reserve player.
Former UW defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, now at Texas, remembered what it was like when he encountered a young Joe Tryon early on with the Huskies. Not everything readily connected.
“He was like baby deer; he was all over the place with his body control,” Kwiatkowski said. “He had to learn how to strike blockers, play lower and use his hands — all that stuff. He's got a huge upside because he's only played two years."
After offering glimpses of his talent as a redshirt freshman and drawing a few late-season starts, Tryon made it come together in 2019. He came up with 41 tackles, which included 12.5 for lost yards, among them 8 sacks, and was named second-team All-Pac-12.
Now, whether he cares or not, Tryon is a first-rounder.
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