One of Washington's star players -- and one of the Pac-12's best as well -- is out for the foreseeable future with a significant injury. Huskies coach Jimmy Lake announced on Wednesday that linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui suffered a torn Achilles during a scrimmage the previous week. The injury requires surgery and Tupuola-Fetui will miss anywhere between six and 10 months. Though Lake sounded optimistic that his top defender could return at some point for the upcoming season, it's possible he could miss the entirety of it depending on his rehab.
"He's got a smile on his face, and he told me he's going to be back and ready to go at some point during the 2021 season," Lake said, per the Seattle Times. "I believe he will, with the way he's going to attack rehab."
Tupuola-Fetui led the Pac-12 with seven sacks in four games last season. His 1.75 sacks per game were the most by an FBS player. As a result, he was named a first-team all-conference selection. He also played in 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2019, notching nine tackles.
His loss is significant, as he's not only one of the best returning players for the Huskies, but for the Pac-12 in general. He could have declared for the NFL draft after the 2020 season, but instead elected to return. Sav'ell Smalls, who saw action in all four games a season ago, could be asked to step up even more as a sophomore. The former five-star recruit and crown jewel of the Huskies' 2020 class had seven tackles last year, including five in a win over Utah.