The Washington Huskies are coming off one of their most successful seasons in the last decade and are filled with optimism as they usher in the Chris Petersen era in Seattle. Helping to fuel their optimism heading into 2014 is the return of defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha who overcame a history of injuries to become one of the best defensive players on the team in 2013. With a full season of healthy play under his belt, Kikaha is in prime position to leave his mark on the Husky record books in 2014.
Coming into the 2013 season, Kikaha, then named Hau’oli Jamora, had missed 22 straight games due to injury. He got off to a somewhat slow start as he tested out his newly recovered knee, recording just .5 of a sack against FBS competition (though he recorded three sacks against FCS Idaho State) through the first half of the season. But as the season progressed, Kikaha became more confident and effective with his pass rush. Over the final six games of the season and the bowl game, he recorded 9.5 sacks and finished the year as the defensive MVP of the Fight Hunger Bowl.
His 13 sacks on the year were second most in a single season in the history of the Washington football program and earned Kikaha second-team All-Pac-12 honors. Coming back with the momentum of the second half of 2013 for 2014 makes Kikaha a prime candidate to do some amazing things next fall. The single season sack-record of 14.5, set by Jason Chorak in 1996, is well within reach for the talented pass rusher. And that could be just the first thing he accomplishes.
If he records another 13 sacks next season, he would tie Daniel Te’o-Nesheim for the Washington career record mark of 30 sacks. If he maintains the frenetic pace he set over the final seven games of 2013, he’ll be a lock for All-American honors in addition to cementing his legacy at UW be rewriting the defensive record books. Most importantly, however, he’ll be a steady pass rush option for the Washington defense as they finally try and break through in the Pac-12 race.