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Washington DB Myles Bryant thrilled for Pasadena homecoming as Huskies prepare for Rose Bowl

Bryant grew up in Pasadena going to games at the Rose Bowl, and he’ll turn 21 the day after the Huskies play Ohio State. Meanwhile, another Huskies DB mulls his NFL draft options.

Adam Jude

On Jan. 1, 1998, Joel and Michelle Bryant were at home in Pasadena, Calif., watching the Rose Bowl game being played a few miles away between Michigan and Washington State.

The top-ranked Wolverines held on for a 21-16 victory over Ryan Leaf and the Cougars, and not long after the game ended Michelle went into labor.

Their son was born the next day.

The Rose Bowl would become a staple of Myles Bryant’s childhood. He estimated he attended a half-dozen Rose Bowl games, and he sold programs outside the stadium as a fundraiser for his Loyola High School football team.

Myles was even in the stands, two days after his eighth birthday, for the famed USC-Texas game in 2006, one of the greatest college football games ever played.

“I’ve got a pretty good history when it comes to the Rose Bowl,” he said.

There might be no one as excited as Bryant that the No. 9 Huskies are heading back to the Rose Bowl, a day before his 21st birthday. The junior defensive back, one of the most versatile and most valuable players in the Pac-12’s top-ranked defense, will get to spend Christmas at home with his family in Pasadena a week before the Huskies’ Jan. 1 matchup against No. 5 Ohio State.

“It’s wonderful to be able to go back to where I started playing football and get the opportunity to play in The Granddaddy of Them All,” he said.

A former walk-on, the 5-foot-8 Bryant is in his second season as the Huskies’ starting nickelback, and he ranks fifth on the team with 55 tackles in 12 games, plus 3.5 sacks and five pass breakups. He had five tackles and one forced fumble in the Huskies’ victory over UCLA in the Rose Bowl Stadium on Oct. 6, and conference coaches voted him to the all-Pac-12 second team earlier this week.

More accolades for Murphy

Byron Murphy, the Huskies’ third-year sophomore cornerback, has been named the Pac-12 player of the year by the analytics website Pro Football Focus.

PFF gave Murphy a grade of 91.9 overall this season, which ranks No. 1 among all Pac-12 players and No. 1 among all cornerbacks in college football. UW safety Taylor Rapp (91.4) and linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven (91.2) were also among the site’s highest-graded players in the conference.

Murphy scored the game’s only touchdown on a 66-yard interception return to lead the Huskies’ 10-3 victory over Utah in the Pac-12 championship game. He added a second interception in the fourth quarter and broke up the game’s final pass in the final 30 seconds.

“Everything’s been exciting for me right now,” he said after practice Saturday. “There’s been a lot of awards coming my way. I’m blessed to be in this opportunity, but I’ve got to thank my coaches and my teammates for giving me this opportunity. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it this far.”

Some are projecting Murphy as a first-round NFL draft pick, should he forgo his final two seasons of college eligibility. Murphy said he will wait until after the Rose Bowl to make a final decision about the draft.

“Still talking to coaches, still waiting for a couple things (evaluations) to come back,” he said. “But if I do end up declaring for the draft, I’m going to put my (decision) into God’s hands and keep going from there. If I stay, I stay. But the situation is on and off right now.”

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