SEATTLE - Two key members of the University of Washington’s stout defensive unit have an extra bounce in their step this first week of fall football camp.
Greg Gaines and Azeem Victor weren’t able to practice last spring due to injuries. Both experienced the joy of life-changing events away from the gridiron.
A sizeable chunk of the Husky team attended the wedding of Gaines and his bride Sheyeann last month. The 6-foot-2, 320-pound lineman offered a huge smile after Monday’s practice when he shared just a tidbit of information about the ceremony.
“The wedding was July 7th, so we’ve been married for a while now. We went to Maui for the honeymoon, and it was fun,” said the redshirt junior from La Habra, California.
Gaines hurt his shoulder lifting weights last winter after the Peach Bowl. Forced to watch teammates working out is foreign territory for Greg.
“It was definitely weird, it was like the first time I’d missed practice in my entire football career. It was definitely strange. Coach would call one base play and I was ready to run out on the field and I was like ‘wait a minute’. I was just getting my strength back for the season, which is what matters,” explained Gaines.
National college football publications have listed Greg on both the Nagurski and Outland Trophy watch lists as one of the top interior defensive linemen in the nation.
Azeem Victor is grabbing similar attention at the middle linebacker position. The Compton, California, native suffered a broken leg in the second quarter of Washington’s November 12th loss to USC and spent months healing and watching his football brothers march on. He used the time wisely to earn his diploma from the University of Washington, a tremendous source of pride.
“It was very special because it was something I wanted to do for myself and my family. You know, being one of the only ones in my family to graduate, that’s a big role. I wanted to show my siblings I’m setting the bar high and you have to beat that,” Victor shared.
Inactivity dropped Azeem’s weight to about 220 pounds last spring, far below his desired number to take on huge offensive linemen and punishing ball carriers. He showed up at U-Dub’s fall camp tipping the scale at 235. What was the secret formula to putting on the pounds ?
“Oh man, my girlfriend made a lot of banana pudding!” Victor chuckled. “You know it was gone in about two days. I’m feeling pretty good at this weight, and just ready to roll.”
With healthy and very happy Azeem Victor and Greg Gaines anchored in the middle of the Husky defense, opponents should have a very difficult time running the football against the Dawgs in 2017.
Listen for UW Husky football training camp reports and all the games on KOMO Newsradio AM 1000/FM 97.7. Washington’s season opener is September 1st at Rutgers.