An Unforgettable Name: Ex-Husky Brenno DeFeo
The wild hair flowing out the back of his helmet is gone now, replaced by something more suitable for a middle-aged man. He's probably lost a step or two from that slashing running back style that he once possessed.
Yet he still has that great football name, an identity created from Italian heritage, a public-address announcer's dream: Brenno DeFeo. The guy behind the microphone in the press box used to poetically emphasize each "o."
Forty years ago, DeFeo was a teenaged football prospect continually in the news. From Kennedy High school, he rushed for 2,659 yards and became the then-North Puget Sound League's all-time leading rusher. He scored 30 touchdowns.
The big question: which college would DeFeo choose?
Notre Dame was an option, always a choice for Kennedy's football greats, enabling them to go from one Catholic school to another.
USC called up DeFeo and asked if he had any interest in becoming a Trojan.
In the end, Brenno took official recruiting trips to UCLA and Washington. He chose to stay home. It was a front-page headline in the sports section.
DeFeo had a solid but not flashy college career. He was one of two true freshmen to make the two-deeps, turning up at fullback while the NFL-bound Scott Garnett would make his move at defensive tackle.
"Right now, DeFeo is doing as much with the football as anyone on the team," coach Don James said of his freshman runner before the 1980 season opener.
Brenno became a fullback starter by his junior year, only to suffer a season-ending knee injury in 1982. He had surgery. He had to pay his own way to go to the Aloha Bowl as an injured player.
He was part of five bowl teams at Washington, a backfield member alongside the likes of Jacque Robinson, Rick Fenney, Walt Hunt and Cookie Jackson. He was good for a 10-yard gainer and the occasional touchdown.
We caught up with Brenno DeFeo on the 27th floor of a downtown building in Seattle, looking out on the city that once followed his every move.
The former running back offers his thoughts on the UW coaching change, serves up a humble memory and tells us what he does for a living.