Zion Tupuola-Fetui announces a return to Washington for 2022 season
After Washington’s 2021 season ended, Zion Tupuola-Fetui announced he wasn’t yet ready to enter the NFL Draft, but there was “definitely a bigger decision” to be made. Vague. Potentially problematic as the Huskies have gone through a full-blown overhaul this offseason. The coordinator and position coach who recruited Tupuola-Fetui to Seattle were both gone. Might the former All-American look to play elsewhere?
Tupuola-Fetui put an end to that angst Tuesday. “I bleed purple,” the edge rusher tweeted. Tupuola-Fetui will be back at Washington for his fifth season.
— ZTF (@ztupufet) January 26, 2022
“My time at the University of Washington has been a unique experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world,” he wrote. “The relationships I’ve made in my time will last me the rest of my life. After a few weeks getting to know the new coaching staff, this is definitely the place to be.”
The “#LastDance” would seem to imply Tupuola-Fetui will only use one of his two remaining seasons of eligibility, but even one more season is a significant win for new head coach Kalen DeBoer.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound linebacker, “ZTF,” experienced a breakout 2020 season. In only four games, Tupuola-Fetui produced seven sacks, three forced fumbles, and a pass breakup. Among qualified defenders, only one FBS player had a better pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus than Tupuola-Fetui and only four players had better pressure rate. That performance earned Tupuola-Fetui a second-team All-American selection by both The Athletic and the Walter Camp Foundation.
Tupuola-Fetui missed the first five games of the 2021 season after tearing his Achilles tendon during spring football, rehabbing the injury at a remarkable rate and still returning in time to play five games (three starts). He had just one sack in his five appearances, though.
Washington should have some depth at outside ‘backer, but with a clean bill of health Tupuola-Fetui could be the most important defensive player for DeBoer and his first-year staff.