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UW Football Primer: Wattenberg's Not Flashy, But He Gets the Job Done

Husky left guard's success has been measured in starting assignments and job flexibility, not hype.
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Luke Wattenberg comes off as a little shy and reticent, as a guy who prefers to remain in the background, as someone perfectly fine with going unnoticed.

That's not easy for a person in his position.

Wattenberg is a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman entering his fourth season as a Washington starter, opening more games than any other Husky football player by a wide margin, 32 and counting. 

This is another in a series of profiles on prospective UW football starters. While spring practice is in question because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Husky Maven/Sports Illustrated will provide uninterrupted coverage.

Wattenberg is reliable and proficient at what he does. Yet he's received no All-Pac-12 honors of any kind for his UW statement of work so far. Obviously, he doesn't do self-promotion.

He's the person who retweets but rarely tweets. He lets others do all the talking and he just listens and smiles. 

He's from out-of-the-way Trabuco Canyon, California, the kid who came to the big city of Seattle and held his own.

Depending on what he does this season, Wattenberg likely will leave as the player who looked out for everyone else's interests and was taken for granted. 

As a redshirt freshman, Wattenberg stepped in and replaced an injured Trey Adams at left tackle, gladly giving way when the highly regarded Adams was healthy again and finding another spot for himself at left guard.

He was the more touted player who brought unsung JSerra Catholic High teammate Nick Harris with him to Washington and then watched as Harris developed into a more visible player, a two-time, All-Pac-12 selection at center.

Wattenberg built a reputation that had other schools such as USC, Nebraska, California, Duke and Nevada avidly recruit him. 

Consider this Wattenberg recruiting assessment from Greg Biggins of 247sports.com: "He's done a lot of pulling and shows the athleticism to not only take out a linebacker but to get down the field and make a block on a safety, as well. He really finishes his block well and isn't content in just getting in the way. He has the nastiness to put his man on his back."

As a senior, Wattenberg in all likelihood will resume play at left guard and line up alongside junior Jaxson Kirkland, who moves to left tackle. They'll provide a power escort on the strong side. Some think Wattenberg would make a good center. 

If there's been a noticeable transformation in him of any kind, Wattenberg is the player who showed up at Washington with short-cropped hair and seemingly has never cut it since.

He shared this shoulder-length look last season with fellow UW linemen Adams and Kirkland, giving them all a Samson-like appearance. It was one made for rock stars. Or, in this case, block stars.

SUMMARY: As a four-year-starter to be, Wattenberg has proven skills as a collegian. But he's solid, not flashy. He's not particularly strong or quick. He just gets the job done.

GRADE (1 to 5): He's a 3, capable of elevating with a strong finish. His true value as a football player won't be fully known until NFL draft analysts decide what they think of him.