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Mercer Island native honored as Husky Legend | Catching up

Mark Jerue, a MIHS grad and former player at UW and in the NFL, was honored Nov. 10 as a Husky Legend and had a chance to catch up with his defensive coordinator at UW, coach Jim Lambright. - Contributed photo
Mark Jerue, a MIHS grad and former player at UW and in the NFL, was honored Nov. 10 as a Husky Legend and had a chance to catch up with his defensive coordinator at UW, coach Jim Lambright.
— image credit: Contributed photo

During the Nov. 10 University of Washington football game against Utah, Mercer Island High School grad and UW alum Mark Jerue was named a Husky Legend.

Jerue graduated from MIHS in 1978 and played for the University of Washington from 1978 until 1981 and played in the National Football League after being drafted by the New York Jets and then the Los Angeles Rams until 1989 as a linebacker.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Jerue of the weekend. He said he was asked about coming to the game to be honored, and it happened to be the same weekend he was going to be in town for his 30th college fraternity reunion.

“Now that they play at Century Link, we were down on the sidelines for a bit, but it’s not the same feel as Husky Stadium,” he said. “We did take a tour of the new construction, the weight room and athletic facilities. It’s pretty nice.”

Jerue said his freshman year at UW was the first year that the redshirt rule was reenacted, and that he and another freshman, Fletcher Jenkins, were the only true freshmen of the class to play that season. Jerue started his college career with the Huskies as a nose guard, but by his senior season Huskies head coach Don James suggested he move to linebacker, which proved to be a success, and a major reason why he was able to play professionally. But Jerue’s playing career went back much farther.

“I started playing as young as you could, probably 7 or 8,” he said. “I had the experience of going through Little League all the way through high school (on Mercer Island). I had really great coaches. I’ve always been lucky in that, to have great coaches.”

Though the MI alum was recruited by Stanford, he said he always knew he wanted to be a Husky.

“I had the opportunity to go to Stanford, but I didn’t really want to go anywhere else (other than UW),” he said. “The Washington experience was really great. They kind of turned things around when I was a senior in high school. I grew up listening to them on the radio, washing my parents’ cars in the driveway on Saturday afternoons. I figured I could get the school experience anywhere I went because they really sell you on the Stanford education, but there was no doubt I was a Husky.”

Jerue said the best lessons learned from the field are probably the most obvious ones — hard work and grinding it out.

“Hard work — it doesn’t always mean you’ll be successful, but you have a better shot at success if you work hard,” he said. “Discipline and just grinding it out, putting good days together and staying focused.”

Jerue was the captain of the UW football team in 1981, which played in the Rose Bowl. He also played in the Rose Bowl game in 1978, also against Michigan, as a freshman. Jerue still holds the record for career tackles at UW with 354.

“I would say, go for your dreams,” Jerue said of what he would tell players today. “Nothing is impossible. I don’t think I was that much better than anyone else on our teams — I was just a good player who tried to be the best and kept moving.”

Jerue now lives in Orange County, Calif., with his wife and is the senior vice president of a  commercial real estate company. He said though his family still lives in Washington, none live on the Island.

Do you know someone the Island should Catch Up with? Contact sports writer Megan Managan at (206) 232-1215 or mmanagan@mi-reporter.com.

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