When the Colorado football team travels to Seattle in early November to play the Washington Huskies, there will be another familiar face on the other side of the field.
Former Buff punter and placekicker Zach Grossnickle has enrolled in graduate school at Washington and has received approval to spend his final season of eligibility playing for coach Steve Sarkisian and the Huskies. He is scheduled to move to Seattle in late-July.
"It will be a change to wear new colors, but I am looking forward to making the most of my last season of eligibility with a new team," Grossnickle said in an email. "When we play Colorado, it will be good to see some of my buddies from the Buffs, but when it's game day, it's game day, and I'll focus on what I have to do."
Grossnickle doesn't know yet whether he will be punting or placekicking or both for the Huskies. He plans to be prepared to compete for both jobs when practices begin in early August. He said he will pursue a degree in public policy and public affairs with an emphasis on clean water issues.
"As always, nothing is certain until I get to Seattle and show them what I can do," he said
Grossnickle came to CU from Denver East High School in 2009 to play for former coach Dan Hawkins . He was one of the top-ranked combination kicker/punters in the nation in that recruiting cycle.
He redshirted his first season in Boulder and became the Buffs' starting punter as a freshman in 2010. He averaged 39.5 yards per punt that season.
Grossnickle lost his starting job in fall camp in 2011 to freshman Darragh O'Neill, who retained the job again last year. Grossnickle was largely relegated to the sideline in 2011 and the first part of the 2012 season before becoming the team's primary kickoff specialist.
After his junior season ended last fall, Grossnickle didn't know if his football career was over. He was one of several fourth-year juniors who were told by former coach Jon Embree last summer that the 2012 season would be their last in Boulder since they were on pace to graduate and hadn't been big contributors.
Former CU strength and conditioning coach Malcolm Blacken encouraged Grossnickle not to give up on football, and after the season ended, it didn't take long for coaches from other programs to show interest in adding him to their rosters. He decided to continue his football career in Seattle, in large part, because the school offered the graduate program he was seeking.
Grossnickle will find a familiar face in the Washington program. Former CU assistant coach Eric Kiesau is an assistant for Sarkisian. Grossnickle said he is looking forward to working with Kiesau again.