On the field after Washington’s 27-20 victory over No. 20 Texas in the 2022 Valero Alamo Bowl Rome Odunze took it all in.
Odunze, who led the Pac-12 Conference in receiving yards (1,145), yards per game (95.4) and tied for sixth with seven touchdowns this past season, elected not to make a formal decision after the game.
On Thursday, he made it official. Odunze will join classmate Jalen McMillan and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. for one final season in Purple and Gold in 2023.
“I’m back,” a caption read in bold above a very distinct second sentence.
“We’re coming for a third,” referencing UW seeking its third national championship in program history.
It’s been a common theme even dating back to the latter half of this season. Unfinished business.
In mid December before the team signed its latest recruiting class Odunze was asked if he felt he’d accomplished everything he set out to when he arrived in Seattle in the summer before the 2020 season.
“Oh, I think there’s so much on the table,” Odunze said. “With this team. A lot of young players. I think we have the chance to go win the Pac-12 Championship, end up in the College Football Playoffs if everything goes perfectly.
“Having that opportunity to come back. Go for a Belitnikoff. Get Mike the Heisman. Get this team where it needs to be – at the top.”
‘It’s gonna be scary’
JaMarcus Shephard has coached some talented receivers over his eight years as a full-time assistant.
Without question he’ll have the deepest and most talented room that he’s ever had in 2023.
When asked on the field after the Alamo Bowl what he felt Odunze would do, Shephard said either way the team and coaching staff would fully support his decision.
“If he chooses to come back, guess what? It’s going to be pretty scary,” Shephard said.
The fact that prior to 2022 Shephard had never coached two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season.
UW also hadn’t had two receivers record a 100-yard game in the same contest in 20 years. This season the Huskies did that twice; against Portland State and Washington State.
Odunze and McMillan hit the mark against WSU while McMillan paired up with junior Giles Jackson to each record 100-plus against PSU in week two.
Only one receiver — redshirt freshman Lonyatta Alexander — has entered the transfer portal since the regular season concluded. It’s expected at least one more non-contributor will exit the program.
The rest of the room, which also includes Jackson, junior Ja’Lynn Polk, and Michigan State transfer Germie Bernard to go along with Denzel Boston, who played in only four games in 2022 to preserve his redshirt year.