Washington LB Psalm Wooching to pursue rugby instead of NFL career

Washington linebacker Psalm Wooching led the Huskies in sacks in 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington linebacker Psalm Wooching led the Huskies in sacks in 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Psalm Wooching had a shot at the NFL.

Some outlets had the Washington linebacker as a potential late-round prospect in the April NFL draft. Even if he didn’t get picked, he would have most certainly had the chance to catch on with a team as an undrafted free agent. However, Wooching has chosen another path.

Wooching announced Thursday that instead of pursuing an NFL career, he plans to switch his focus to the sport he says is his first love: rugby.

“I’ve been in deep thought and pray about whether I wanted to continue to play football and I’ve come to a conclusion that it is time to turn the page in my life,” Wooching wrote in a message on his Twitter account. “I will be exchanging shoulder pads for short shorts and rugby boots. My first love and sport I excelled in was rugby, and it is time for me to follow my heart.”

Wooching signed with the Huskies out of his native Hawaii back in 2012 as a running back, but eventually excelled for Washington as an outside linebacker. In 2016, when the Huskies won the Pac-12 and advanced to the College Football Playoff semifinals, Wooching led his team with six sacks (including three in a win over then-No. 7 Stanford) to go along with 42 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.

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His emergence late in his UW career turned him into a guy who had the attention of NFL scouts, as noted in a feature by Bleacher Report’s Matt Hayes:

It took a year, but he eventually moved to tailback, and by the end of his senior year he had set single-season school records. He got to Washington and started out at fullback, was moved to defensive end when Petersen arrived and eventually settled in at linebacker. As a first-time starter this year, he has redefined himself on the field and has NFL scouts intrigued by his play.

“He’s 6’4”, 240, he’s raw, he can grow into that frame and he can run,” says one AFC scout. “He’s a project, but with some work, he could pay off big down the road.”

Instead of heading down the NFL road, Wooching will return to a sport he is quite familiar with. According to the Seattle Times, Wooching competed for the U.S. rugby junior national team back in high school. He also played on Washington’s national championship-winning club rugby team in 2014, per the Times. With his attention fully devoted to the sport, he hopes to take his talents to the Olympic stage.

“My goal is to be able to represent my country while playing rugby and then on to playing in the next Olympics,” he wrote. “This has been a dream of mine for quite some time and I will do anything to accomplish it.”

For more Washington news, visit TheDawgReport.com.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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