From Milbank Bulldog to Washington Husky Kalen DeBoer stays true to roots

Karl’s TV & Appliance Athlete of the Week
Milbank native and former USF coach succeeding at FBS level
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 11:04 PM CST
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SEATTLE, WA (Dakota News Now) - From Milbank, SD to the place he calls home now, Husky Stadium. What a journey it’s been for Kalen DeBoer. As a great player and coach at USF. And then the journey went to different places. Fresno, Indiana, back to Fresno and now he’s here, at a Power 5 school. And boy are they glad they’ve got him.

Jen Cohen-Washington AD says,”It’s so interesting going through the entire search process, every single time it came back to Kalen DeBoer. I think it was just that we had the confidence that he was going to develop a winning formula for Washington. You know this, he’s a winner right. But he’s also a good fit for us because he really cares about his players and he cares about the university and the community and he was hungry for this opportunity.”

And make no mistake. Kalen and his famly are thrilled to call Seattle home after quite a journey.

Nicole DeBoer says,”It’s pretty cool that we’re at the University of Washington. Never ever did we think we’d be at a place like this. And we’re pretty happy to be here.”

Kalen DeBoer says,”This is a program that’s got 2 national championship trophies sitting in the trophy case. And so it’s a thing you really want to be a part of having done that at Sioux Falls with championships and at Fresno, this is a traditional type program at the higest level. I don’t know why I’d want to be anywhere else but here at Washington.”

And what made this story even better is that Kalen brought along Chuck Morrell and Ryan Grubb since they’ve had so much success together elsewhere.

Ryan Grubb-Washington OC says,”You know for a head coach it typically starts with being genuine. Number one that you are exactly who you say you are. I think when you want to follow a person whether you’re an assistant coach or a player, you want somebody that you truly believe in. Not is he really this guy or is he not? That’s always been Kalen’s deal is that he’s a genuine person.”

Chuck Morrell-Washington DC says, “At the end of the day after you’re been in the industry for a while it’s more important to me about the people you work with than anything else. So just an incredible opportunity to come back and you know the character where he stands and who he is and you know what kind of program he’s going to run and that’s something that I personally subscribe to.”

The offense has been among the best in the nation with transfer Michael Penix Junior, a possible Heisman Trophy candidate leading the way. He had already played under Kalen at Indiana.

Michael Penix-Washington QB says, “Once I was able to connect with Coach DeBoer onviously I understand his style of coaching and I knew coming in here that I’sd be able to get the ball in the air and definitely be successful doing it so that made my decision real easy.”

With players like Michael and under DeBoer’s leadership, there has been a huge change in the culture at U-DUB. But Kalen is so humble, he’s quick to deflect praise to everyone else including Chuck and Ryan.

Kalen says,”I’m here because of them just as much as they’re here because of me. We’ve done this together and their willingness to leave the ego at the door has been so huge for us and I get a lot of the credit for wins and how the program is doing. But there’s no way we’d be where we’re out without the value and the hard work they are putting in ever day.”

6th-year senior Alex Cook who didn’t have to come back and the team’s leading tackler couldn’t be happier with his Huskie’s on the verge of a 10-win season.

Alex Cook-Washington Strong Safety says, “Man I coulodn’t, they obviously surpassed our expectations of what we expected them to come in and do and I give my flowers to Coach DeBoer because he’s been all and then some in terms of getting us on the right page and building this program from the bottom up.”

With plenty of speculation about Kalen getting new job offers, he’s made it clear he’s very happy in Seattle. And the family is glad to wear purple again, hopefully for quite a while.

Avery DeBoer says, “We’re hoping that we will stay here for a while. I’m pretty sure we will, but you never know where the worl take us. I told him to stay put, but I don’t know what he will do.”

So in his very first year, the Washington Huskies are on the brink of a very good bowl game. They are 9-2 and play the Apple Cup on Saturday against their arch-rival Washington State . With a win there they almost assure themselves of a really good game in the post season. It’s been quite a first year for Kalen Deboer here in Seattle, Washington. They love him here.