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Ulumoo Ale Moves Ever Nearer to Prominent Role for Huskies

Portland State’s Andrew Van Buren, a stubby 6-foot, 240-pound running back, took the handoff, slammed in to the middle of the line and disappeared right into a mass of bodies.

On the game’s second play from scrimmage last weekend at Husky Stadium, the visiting rusher gained a solitary yard.

It had been only a minor thing, not worth pausing the action for grand ceremony or pulling the football from play to be positioned on a mantle somewhere, but University of Washington defensive tackle Ulumoo Ale made the tackle.

This is significant for two reasons: 1) the massive 6-foot-6, 340-pound junior, after undertaking a well-publicized position switch, received credit for his first collegiate tackle; and 2) per month earlier, as he lay face down and injured in Dempsey Indoor and required frantic medical assistance, the immediate thought he will be playing this year at all seemed rather stark at that time.

Yet there is Ale this last weekend, drawing more game snaps than in the opener, and he’s now seeking to contribute a lot more on Saturday afternoon once the Huskies (2-0) entertain the 11th-ranked Michigan State Spartans (2-0) in a nationally televised encounter at Husky Stadium.

Ale’s stat line over two outings after converting from the offensive line to the defensive line is really a modest one: he’s got that close-quarters tackle against Portland State and a fourth-quarter pass deflection against Kent State where he almost appeared to swallow the football whole.

“We feel great about him,” Husky co-defensive coordinator Chuck Morrell said. “He really began to pop out used where his movements and lateral agility were turning up again.”

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The Huskies have great hope that Ale ultimately can be a starter and have a prominent role on the defensive line, instead of just make spot appearances to spell others, and repeatedly turn off opposing runners such as for example Van Buren.

Ale shed considerable weight from 368 pounds in order to demonstrate his football mobility and satisfy defensive-line coach Inoke Breckterfield. He survived what appeared like a helmet-to-the-knee contusion that appeared much worse than it had been and forced him to be carted away to an exercise room in early August.

He played multiple series against Portland State as he gets nearer to regular Husky duty. The institution actually listed him on flash cards because the starter that day but he came off the bench. On Saturday, Ale might use Michigan State as his defensive coming-out party.

“We’re confident that it is time for him to essentially have the ability to step right into a larger role,” Morrell said. “We were just being cautious with [him] coming off the injury.”

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