Dick Hannula Amateur Athlete of the Year-Detail

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Dick Hannula Amateur Athlete of the Year-Detail
Dick Hannula Amateur Athlete of the Year-Detail

Kaleb McGary
Fife High School / University of Washington

    By Gary Brooks

    University of Washington football lineman Kaleb McGary has said that his life story sounds like a country song. He has been open about the variety of challenges he and his family have faced over the past decade. Financial hardship led to an exit from the family farm and a variety of animals. Health difficulties have impacted his parents and he has had three procedures to fix a problem with his heart.
    Through football, and the opportunity to continue his education, he has risen beyond adversity to become one of the most decorated offensive linemen in a long Husky history of standouts. Adding to a growing list of accolades, McGary is the 2018-19 winner of the Dick Hannula Award as the top male amateur athlete from Pierce County.
    The 2014 Fife High School graduate was a key figure in the re-emergence of the UW football program. He capped his UW career by earning the Morris Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-12 conference last season. The Morris Trophy is especially meaningful to McGary because it is voted on by his peers, fellow lineman throughout the conference.
    The 6-foot-7, 317-pound right tackle is a two-time first-team all-Pac-12 selection. In addition to protecting quarterback Jake Browning for most of their careers together, McGary's blocking contributed to the exceptional rushing stats of Myles Gaskin. Often running through holes that McGary created, Gaskin set the UW record for career rushing yards and became only the second NCAA running back to exceed 1,200 rushing yards in all four seasons.
    In McGary's four seasons, the Huskies won 39 games. In each of the past three seasons, Washington was ranked in the top 10 in the Associated Press NCAA rankings at some point during the season. In McGary's sophomore season, the Huskies advanced to the national semifinals, losing to Alabama in the Peach Bowl.
    In 2017, McGary won the Earle T. Grant Tough Husky Award. His toughness was evident well before then. When playing basketball for Fife High, he experienced an accelerated heartbeat that caused him to pass out face first into the team bench in the first row of the bleachers. The incident led to a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (heart arrhythmia.). He initially was told he wouldn't be able to compete athletically any more. He has since had three procedures to fix the defect in his heart. The procedures were not considered to be life threatening but they certainly could have limited McGary's ability to perform at a Pac-12 level. Instead, McGary improved each year as a Husky, excelling in the physically demanding football trenches.
    Browning was particularly thankful for McGary's talent and effort protecting him from defenses. "O-line, physical position, and he was able to play a ton of games for us, be very productive," Browning told The News Tribune's Gregg Bell while he and McGary were both at the NFL Combine. "Obviously, he's a freak athlete. You just look at him and realize that. Some of the things that he is able to do physically is very impressive. And the presence he was in the locker room ... always being genuine, always being himself, yet continued to find the best version of himself. He continued to work hard and always set a precedent."

    McGary was the first UW offensive lineman to win the Morris Trophy since Chad Ward in 2000. Next up, he'll have the opportunity to build an NFL career.

    "This has been my whole life. I've been working toward this -- dreaming and pushing toward this my entire life," McGary told the Seattle Times. "And I'm very excited about that opportunity, she's starting to knock. Now it's on me to take advantage and do what I can."
    The opportunity to play football on a larger stage started knocking several years ago. McGary was a first-team all-league selection at Fife as a defensive lineman and tight end both his junior and senior seasons. He was named to The News Tribune All-Area team in 2013 as a tight end. The News Tribune selected him as one of just five Northwest Nuggets representing the top college football recruits in the Northwest.

    Initially expecting to play on the defensive line after joining Chris Peterson's first recruiting class at UW, McGary filled a need at right tackle and settled in to become a Husky legend.
    Dick Hannula Amateur Athlete of the Year-Detail
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