Tuputala confirms he’s returning and ready to provide UW leadership.
The Husky linebacker has seen it everything, both good and bad, in Montlake.
Alphonzo Tuputala, more than anyone else, needed to return to the University of Washington football team and keep things moving forward.
With his team rebuilding after a coaching change following a national runner-up performance, the Huskies needed a new captain, preferably someone who knows how to deal with adversity.
Tuputala, who confirmed in a social media post this week that he will return for a sixth season, qualifies as too resilient on several fronts.
He showed up in 2019 as the least heralded of four new Husky linebackers — the others were Miki Ah You, Josh Calvert and Daniel Heimuli — and he turned out to be the best one.
Ready to make a big move for playing time in 2021, Tuputala tore an Achilles tendon during spring practice at the same time that teammate Zion Tupuola-Fetui ripped one and, unlike his more publicized teammate, almost no one knew what happened to Tuputala.
While establishing Tuputala as a first-year starter in 2022, Kalen DeBoer’s coaching staff continued to bring in veteran linebackers to try to oust him, including Pittsburgh’s Cam Bright, UAB’s Kris Moll, and USC’s Ralen Goforth, but he retained his position.
Then there’s the fanbase. More than a few of them have wondered aloud why fellow linebacker Carson Bruener did not start in place of Tuputala last season, a situation that may lead to them starting together this season.
Oh yeah, then there’s the matter of that interception.
Tuputala intercepted a Utah pass last season and returned it 76 yards, which tied him for the 14th-longest runback in school history.
Nonetheless, he mistakenly dropped the ball on the 1 for a fumble rather than finishing the play with a crucial touchdown.
Tuputala had to deal with embarrassment rather than celebration in a close game, pull himself together, and continue playing.
The interception is obviously missing from the accompanying highlight video on X, which signifies the linebacker’s return.
This Federal Way, Washington, native has weathered all of Husky football’s highs and lows, glory and disdain, and has emerged unscathed.
He’s one of only two starters returning to help the program regain momentum under Jedd Fisch’s leadership. It would be a great surprise if he isn’t a captain. He possesses the qualities of a leader.
If nothing else, Tuputala is back to defend at linebacker and possibly intercept and score another pass.