Top 13 of 2013 - #7: Hau'oli Kikaha

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In one of the best comeback stories in the country, Hau'oli Kikaha came back from missing nearly two full seasons to become one of UW's best players in 2014

Hau'oli Jamora missed 22 straight games to injury heading into the 2013 season. The name change was purely coincidental, but in retrospect it was a symbolic offering. Jamora's injuries and knee troubles were left behind, and Hau'oli Kikaha, sack machine, was born.

With the injury history many were doubtful that he'd be able to contribute at all, much less be one of the best players on the team. It was a completely defensible position, which I'm sure we're all happy to say that Kikaha made look foolish.

His season started slowly, and through the first half he had just .5 of a sack against FBS competition (he dominated Idaho State, as did most of the Husky roster, notching 3 sacks). But as the season wore on he got better and better. Maybe he gained confidence in his knee. Maybe it got healthier as the season wore on. Maybe through repetitions and live action he knocked the rust off and just got better. Whatever the case may be, he gained steam quickly in the second half of the season, registering 9.5 sacks over the final six regular season games and the bowl game. Against Washington State he was arguably the best player on the field for the entire game. In the Fight Hunger Bowl, he was named defensive MVP.

Some other bullet points on Kikaha's year:

He finished with 13 sacks. the second most in a single season in Husky history.

Second Team All Pac-12

First Team All Academic Pac-12

If Kikaha's improved play was due to the reasons listed above, then it's astounding to think what he could do in 2014 for a full year. Certainly the single season sack record is attainable (especially with at least one more game on the schedule in 2013 than there was in 2014). His second half play prorated over a full season could put Kikaha in All-American conversations. Another 13 sack season would tie Kikaha with Daniel Te'o-Nesheim for UW's all time lead.

Not a bad comeback story.

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