What I learned about Washington at Pac-12 Media Day
Chatting with Kalen DeBoer about weight-room gains, recruiting, NIL and lots more.
LAS VEGAS — Kalen DeBoer does not arrive at media events unprepared.
As we spoke outside the meeting rooms on the third story of the ritzy-yet-generically-named Resorts World — site of Friday’s Pac-12 Media Day — DeBoer referenced a folded sheet of paper packed with facts and figures, many of them related to gains made by Washington players in the weight room this offseason.
Bench and squat maxes. GPS-tracked top speeds. Forty-yard dash times. Vertical and broad jump measurements.
I looked, but didn’t see any Pac-12 media-rights information. Sorry.
DeBoer, senior quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and senior linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio represented the Huskies at the day-long event. The morning was, predictably, dominated by TV talk, as Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff fielded questions about the conference’s ongoing media-rights negotiations (he expects a deal in the “near future,” and isn’t worried about any teams defecting for the Big 12).
Germane as those matters might be to, oh, I don’t know, the future of the sport on the West Coast, the tenor of this media day did eventually favor football, which is very much how the Pac-12 preferred it.
It afforded a chance to catch up with DeBoer — on the topic of weight-room gains and plenty more — and sit down for a bit with Penix and Ulofoshio.
Here are 10 things I learned about the Huskies on Friday.
1. The number that jumped off the page when DeBoer pointed it out? Rome Odunze clocked a 4.34-second 40-yard dash this offseason. That’s after bulking up to around 215 pounds this spring (UW strength coach Ron McKeefery featured Odunze in his recent before-and-after photos).
Odunze had great track speed at Bishop Gorman, winning the state championship in the 200-meter dash as a junior. You’ve seen him run with the ball in his hands. His speed always has been an asset. But a sub 4.4-40?
“I’ve never seen him faster,” DeBoer said. “He’s clocking in the 4.3s, and (is) as big as I’ve ever seen him.”
DeBoer said Odunze’s bench-press max is up 25 pounds from last year, and his squat max is up 30. He also logged a broad jump beyond 10 feet. Odunze spoke in the spring about wanting to play healthier and show more ability to run after the catch this season, and sought to tune his body accordingly.
“He goes so hard every single play that there’s a lot of miles he puts on, in practices and games,” DeBoer said. “I think that’s worn him down at some point in seasons past, but I think he’s done the work and understands his body now, to where that production, we’ll see that consistency throughout the season.”