The Michigan Daily - Rose Bowl Preview- December 10, 1992 - Page 5
Washington's Kaufman nips bad play with good attitude
by Drake Witham
The Washington Daily
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Rather than zigzagging his way across
the field on another spectacular punt
return, Napolean Kaufman was des-
perately chasing the ball, trying to fall
on it before a swarm of Arizona play-
ers recovered his third fumble of the
Kaufman did cover the ball but by
botching the return he left the Huskies
in poor field position. A few minutes
later the game was over and Washing-
ton had its first loss in nearly two
In a season filled with highlight-
reel performances, Kaufman rushed
for just 50 yards against the Wildcats
nd was returned to reality.
"My first reaction was that I had a
bad game, but I've had seven real
good games," Kaufman said. "I had
one bad game."
Kaufman, with his incredible
speed, is used to being successful on
the football field. Ever since he started
playing as a child he has been a
standout. He was recruited by virtu-
ally every team in the country and was
a household name in Seattle before
his freshman year. Now, he is being
forced to deal with being partially
responsible for the loss.
"Just move on, if you lose a game
you're not supposed to put your head
down," Kaufman said. "We have two
Kaufman dealt with the loss by
turning to his big brother. He is an
only child but senior tailback Beno
Bryant serves as his older sibling,
giving thesophomore advice andl[elp-
ing him deal with situations.
"We talked about it and it was kind
of funny because he had a similar
game against UCLA two years ago,"
Kaufman said. "We shared our expe-
riences and the same stuff happened
to both of us. He helped me out."
Media attention is nothing new to
Kaufman and Bryant and the two ac-
knowledge the up and down world
that comes with the spotlight.
"If you do something good then
everybody wants to talk to you and be
your buddy, but as soon as you have
one bad game everybody is down on
you," Kaufman said. "Some of the
press like that disturbs us."
Bryant and Kaufman have had
many of the same experiences with
the media. When Greg Lewis was
injured two seasons ago, the 5-foot-9
Bryant was forced into action..News-
papers printed stories saying he was
too small to take an entire game of
When Bryant went down earlier
this year, the diminutive Kaufman
saw the same articles about himself.
He responded with player-of-the-
week performances in both the Cali-
fornia and Arizona State games, and
did nothing to indicate he would not
be a solid replacement.
A mere sophomore who did not
have the luxury of a redshirt season,
Kaufman's maturity level has been in
question as well. He admits to having
matured greatly since last season and
doesn't think it matters that the Hus-
kies have had to rely on younger play-
ers this season.
Despite some of the negative clip-
pings, getting down on himself is
something that Kaufman won't do. In
fact, he sees this as a learning experi-
ence. In his sophomore year of high
school Kaufman faced a similar situ-
ation of having to come back after a
"I had a real bad game but we got
together and went all the way to the
state finals," Kaufman said of the
loss, which is still vivid in his mind
four years later. "I've had a bad game
before and bounced back, so I'm not
concerned about that."
The speedster that people call
"Nip" is one of the more vibrant per-
sonalities in the Husky lockerroom.
Kaufman is as flamboyant and outgo-
ing among his teammates as he is
conservative when speaking to the
media. That personality helped him
through the Arizona loss.
"I didn't notice that he was any
different than any other player after
the Arizona game," Washington coach
Don James said.
"I'm not going to mope around
forever," Kaufman said. "I know what
I did wrong and I know I'll correct it."
Kaufman would also like another
chance to play with his "big brother"
in the Husky backfield. Bryant is ap-
plying for another year of eligibility
because of his hamstring injury and it
is likely that he and Kaufman could
have another chance to be the league's
most electrifying backfield.
"That would be real fun," Kaufman
With his positive attitude and
promising talent, good times lie ahead
for Kaufman no matter what the situ-
ation. Whether he gets to run with
Bryant again or if he continues to be
doubted for his size, Kaufman will
prove himself on the field, laughing
all the way to the end zone.
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