Caple: Get to know UW Huskies LB transfer Bryun Parham

Feb 2, 2024, 9:22 AM

UW Huskies Bryun Parham...

Bryun Parham of San Jose State tackles Kendall Karr of Coastal Carolina in the 2023 Hawaii Bowl. (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

(Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

Bryun Parham played more than 1,200 defensive snaps for San Jose State the past two seasons, during which he compiled 180 tackles — 106 of them in 2023 — plus 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

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The senior linebacker describes himself as a “master of the basics.”

And he offers this simple assessment of the events that landed him on the UW Huskies’ roster for the 2024 season: “I never thought Nick Saban would affect San Jose State.”

The coaching legend retired on a Wednesday. Two days later, Alabama hired Kalen DeBoer to replace him. Two days after that, Washington hired Arizona’s Jedd Fisch. The final domino — San Jose State’s Brent Brennan replacing Fisch at Arizona — Parham could see coming. He remembered hearing that Brennan had interviewed for the Arizona job following the 2020 season, when the Wildcats ultimately chose to hire Fisch.

“So when I saw Coach Fisch go to Washington, it was in the back of my mind that, ‘ooh, Coach Brennan might go to Arizona,’” Parham said. “And a couple days later, it happened.”

Yet it was the fate of a former UW linebacker that would inform Parham’s next steps. Scott White played for the Huskies from 2002-06. He led the team with four interceptions as a senior, and finished second on the team with 90 tackles. His coaching career took him from Central Washington to Palomar College to UCLA to San Jose State, where he coached linebackers and special teams the past five seasons.

White, Parham said, “was one of the only people that believed in me coming out of high school.” Indeed, as a 5-foot-11 prospect from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly in the 2021 class, Parham reported scholarship offers from only Idaho State and the Spartans. In White, he saw a mentor who had coached NFL Draft picks such as Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Myles Jack during his seven seasons in Westwood.

So, even in the wake of Brennan’s departure, “I was going to stick it out with (White),” Parham said. “I was going to ride with him, because I know he could prepare me to that level. My mind wasn’t really in the portal. I just wanted to see what my coach was going to do.”

He hoped White might remain on staff at San Jose State in some capacity, “but unfortunately, that didn’t happen.” So he walked across the street to the compliance office and entered his name in the transfer portal.

Parham said he did speak with Brennan after the coach took the Arizona job. Kansas State and California reached out, too. But Washington’s urgency set the Huskies apart. Kevin Cummings, UW’s new receivers coach, called him. So did o-line coach/offensive coordinator Brennan Carroll, and defensive line coach Jason Kaufusi, and running backs coach Scottie Graham.

“I wanted to go somewhere that’s going to call me,” Parham said. “They were the hardest recruiting me, calling me the most. They got right to the point. They scheduled my official visit right for (that) Friday. I don’t want anybody lagging behind. I want somebody that’s going to pick me. They said they wanted me, they needed me.”

He was in the portal on a Monday, on UW’s campus by the following Friday, and announced his commitment while still on his official visit. Parham gives the Huskies a third senior in their rotation at linebacker, alongside returners Alphonzo Tuputala and Carson Bruener, and helps replace the experience lost with the graduation of Edefuan Ulofoshio and Ralen Goforth. UW also returns redshirt freshmen Deven Bryant and Jordan Whitney; 2024 signee Khmori House, a January enrollee, entered the portal before deciding to stay at Washington. Drew Fowler, a walk-on, will be a sixth-year senior.

The Huskies have three assistant openings on defense, including one for a linebackers coach. They’ve also yet to hire a defensive coordinator. Parham said he wasn’t too concerned about that. “They’re working everything out right now,” he said.

With one year of eligibility remaining, Parham is clear about his priority.

“One thing I wanted to emphasize when I came in, whatever school I was going to, was that I’m coming to play,” he said. “I didn’t come to sit on the bench. I’ve been playing for three years at San Jose State. I’ve got over 1,000 snaps of college football — good, quality snaps. I feel I’m one of the top linebackers in college football.

“I came in real adamant about playing. They didn’t promise me anything. They said there’s going to be an open competition. I really respect that. You can see at the University of Arizona, their coaching staff played the best players. They had a lot of people with a lot of hype over there, but they played a linebacker that was very similar to my size.”

Parham was referring to Jacob Manu, a three-star signee in Arizona’s 2022 recruiting class who earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors last season after totaling 116 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Like Parham, Manu is listed at 5-foot-11. SJSU’s roster listed Parham last season at 212 pounds.

“They believe in guys who play the game the right way, and the best players will play there,” Parham said. “That’s what they emphasized. That’s all I needed to hear.”

Parham said he played “MIK” and “WIL” linebacker at San Jose State, where he had the highest tackling grade on the team last season, per Pro Football Focus. He also led the team with 42 “stops,” which are tackles on plays that constitute a failure for the opposing offense.

And he said NIL was not a driving force in his decision to play at Washington.

“I want to go to the NFL, sir,” he said. “I’m not really a money-hungry guy. I understand you can maximize your opportunities with NIL in college football now, but I’m looking to get developed. I’m looking to go to the NFL. NIL, if it comes, it comes, but I’m looking to get developed. Obviously, I’m not dumb. I understand people get money for playing in college. But that’s not my concern right now.”

Rather, he said: “I’m coming to compete. I’m coming to take it all.”

This article was originally published at OnMontlake.com, the home for Christian Caple’s full UW Huskies football coverage. Subscribe to On Montlake for full access to in-depth UW coverage.

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