Somebody missed an assignment, enabling a 29-yard pass completion to a wide-open Arkansas State's Akeem Hayes. Considering what happened next at Husky Stadium, the visiting wide receiver couldn't have been faulted one bit had he been given a do-over and welcomed tight coverage.
That's because he was introduced to Carson Bruener.
Absolutely decimated by Bruener.
Separated from the ball and left crumpled on the ground by this eager and fearless University of Washington legacy player.
Bruener took off across the field and smacked Hayes so hard, as if to tell him that you're never all that open if he's around.
The contact on the play was fierce enough that this son of former UW and NFL tight end Mark Bruener sat stunned and appeared a little wobbly himself until attentive teammates helped him up and pointed him to the right sideline.
A member of the UW's 1991 national championship team as a true freshman, the older Bruener played right away because he could catch passes and block people effectively. His son chooses to punish those who reach for thrown balls and shed blockers.
His collision with Arkansas State's Hayes represented just a momentary loss of bearings for the 6-foot-2, 230-pound freshman inside linebacker from Redmond, Washington, who otherwise made sure everyone knew who he was in the Huskies' 52-3 victory.
"You saw what he was able to do on defense," UW coach Jimmy Lake said. "He knows the calls, is running sideline to sideline, not making mistakes. So for a young guy, just seeing him blossoming is very nice to see.”
This Bruener finished with 8 tackles against Arkansas State, second on the team and just one behind the Husky leader, nickelback Bookie Radley-Hiles.
With everyone constantly on the lookout for the next yearling Husky player to separate himself from his class, Bruener is forcing the Huskies' hand to play him right away.
He's so good he spent spring practice at outside linebacker until the UW lost a host of inside guys and he was summoned to help replace them. Miki Ah You went home, Josh Calvert transferred to Utah and Alphonzo Tuputala injured a foot that cost him half of spring practice and now fall camp and a month of the season.
Bruener, with his physical style of play, made his coaches do a double-take and conclude they shouldn't hold him back. They first put him on special teams. Against Arkansas State, they unleashed him.
"Carson started showing up during training camp, making plays on scout team first,” Lake said. “We’re running our kickoff return against a scout kickoff, and he’s on scout kickoff. All of a sudden we’re like, ‘Whoa, Carson is showing up.’ He’s showing up on scout punt return. He starts showing up on defense. So we’re like, ‘Hey, you know what? We need to start getting this guy on the field somewhere.’
Bruener has handled every Husky assignment handed him without blinking, at least until he ran into Arkansas State's Hayes with a full head of steam. It took him a few seconds for the lights to come back on. Bright lights can't be that far off.
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