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The pre-Asia high performance 7s camp running Wednesday through Monday will see several invited athletes vie for a spot on Team USA for the upcoming World Series legs in Hong Kong and Singapore. Included in the mix is Washington linebacker Psalm Wooching, who announced to much fanfare earlier this year he intended to pursue rugby upon graduating instead of a career in professional football.
Of Samoan decent, Wooching grew up playing rugby in Hawaii before picking up football in high school and earning a scholarship to play gridiron at Washington. As a Husky, he led the team in sacks his senior year and was an honorable mention all-Pac-12 selection. He was projected as a late-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft or a shoe-in for an undrafted free agency contract. Those are better prospects than were given to Nate Ebner when he was coming out of Ohio State as a special teamer.
"We've invited Psalm so we can assess him, more than anything, as he has a rugby background and a very good athletic track record," Team USA head coach Mike Friday said in a release. "We need to see where he is at and provide him with clarity on what he needs to do."
Also included in the assembly, along with the regulars and contracted 7s players, are Walt Elder, Mike Te'o, Ryan Matyas, former Cal All American Alec Gletzer and Old Blue's Alex Schwarz. All but Wooching and Schwarz have World Series experience. Elder debuted on the most recent trip to Las Vegas and Vancouver, while Matyas hasn't been on the circuit since 2014 under Matt Hawkins and Te'o has been focusing primarily on 15s.
"Mike is high on confidence and is maturing well as a rugby player with x-factor, getting the balance right on when to stay on script and when the time to go off-script is," Friday said. "Defensively we have seen improvement in his game, especially one on one."