In 2008, quality, wide receiver depth was modest and experience was less. Receivers were senior Chancellor Young, sophomore D’Andre Goodwin, and seven freshmen: Vince Taylor, Devin Aguilar, Alvin Logan, Anthony Boyles, Jordan Polk, Cody Bruns and Jermaine Kearse.
Chancellor Young had all the physical gifts but not the desire for football. D’Andre Goodwin, who graduated last year, had a good career. Both Logan and Boyles were moved to defense. By spring, 2011, of the seven freshmen, Polk had been dismissed from the team, Boyles transferred to Idaho State, Taylor left the team, and Logan’s injuries forced him out of football.
One 2008 freshman, however, has been consistently improving each year and should have a stellar senior year in 2011.
When watching Jake Locker highlights, with some imagination the observer can pretend to be a pro scout dissecting Locker’s every move. While studying Locker completing passes, however, the “pro scout” at some point will have to ask himself, “Who’s number 15?”
That’s Jermaine Kearse who doesn’t have blazing speed but gets open and frequently scores. Expect Kearse to receive modest preseason accolades.
Expect much more after the season.
Who holds the U of W record for the most touchdown catches in a single game? Mario Bailey? Brian Slater? Reggie Williams? No, those three are tied for second – each caught three touchdown passes twice – along with the guy who also has the record of four touchdown catches in a single game. The record-holder is number 15, Jermaine Kearse.
Who holds the U of W record for the most career touchdown catches? Mario Bailey who caught 30 touchdown passes. Who is second? It’s a tie at 22 touchdown catches each. Reggie Williams is one. The other is Jermaine Kearse. Kearse caught 12 touchdown passes last season. 12. The implication is worth following in 2011.
If a statistician were to plot Kearse’s receiving productivity – catches per season, touchdown catches per season, reception yardage per season (1,005 in 2010) – each year for the past three years, the graph lines would rise at an accelerated rate and, in a field that includes Paul Skansi, Scott Phillips, Tom Scott, Mario Bailey, Dave Williams, Aaron Williams, Reggie Williams, Dane Looker, Anthony Allen and Jerome Pathon, the extrapolations suggest Jermaine Kearse could firmly establish himself as one of Washington’s three best receivers of all-time, and exceed preseason Pac-12 second team expectations.
The others? In contrast to 2008, a logjam of decent talent is developing at the receiver position.
Senior Devin Aguilar entered Washington following an outstanding high school career culminating with being named the high school Offensive Player of the Year in Colorado but, unlike Kearse, Aguilar has not distanced himself from the pack and will be pushed by others. Competition makes the world go around, and Aguilar will have plenty of it in 2011.
For example, Kevin Smith is a receiver in a safety’s body. Mixing it up with defensive backs is second nature to Smith. Senior Cody Bruns runs good routes and has good hands. Dependability is Bruns’ strong suit, and Bruns will be in the thick of the competition. James Johnson showed flashes of greatness early during his freshman year but had injuries and moments of sophomoritis last year. Hopefully, he’ll be back to his early freshman season state-of-mind and will be physically ready-to-go this fall. DiAndre Campbell seemed stuck in the lower end of the depth chart until spring ball where he stood out on several occasions, suggesting he’ll be vying for playing time.
And there are the new kids.
The New Kids
A large number of football recruits attended a husky basketball game two years ago. Kasen Williams, an uncommitted high school junior, sat next to Nick Montana, a husky commit. Montana spent much of his time talking to Williams – Montana talked, Williams listened. It was obvious that Montana was thinking about the future. The future is here. Husky fans eagerly anticipate the arrival of state triple jump record holder and Parade All-American Kasen Williams, along with Jamaal Jones and Marvin Hall. Will Williams wind up starting? He has that level of talent and desire. No doubt Williams (6’2” 210 lbs.) will practice and play to his potential and, if so, could work his way into the starting lineup. Williams isn’t the only incoming receiver with that kind of ability, however.
The phrase “under the radar” is overused but, nevertheless, a sleeper is Josh Perkins out of Gahr High School in Cerritos, Ca. Highlight videos are highlight videos; the viewer is unlikely to see a player trip over himself. Like most, Perkins’ video is entertaining – great catches and runs after catches – but, unlike most receiver videos, what jumps out isn’t his size (6’3” 205 lbs), speed (22.19 200; 49.77 400) or athleticism but, rather, his determination and toughness. There is the play where he throws a hard block on a defensive back and, if you watch the blocked kid as the play progresses, you’ll notice he doesn’t get up. No doubt the Washington coaches noticed that too.
Perkins has decent speed, soft hands and good size but it’s the mental toughness that will get him into games. He’s a football player. Like Williams, Perkins should seriously compete for playing time. Washington fans will expect that from Williams; if Perkins arrives at fall camp with the same attitude he showed in high school, fans will be pleasantly surprised.
On the horizon are Michael Rector, Dwayne Washington and Kendyl Taylor. Although good athletes, none appears to have extraordinary size or speed. Of course, as Mario Bailey demonstrated some years ago, with preternatural quickness, lack of size isn’t necessarily an obstacle to productivity. From watching video, it appears Rector, Washington and Taylor are quick with good hands. Mental toughness, again, will be paramount because breaking through the receiver logjam will require talent but, even more so, attitude.
As with the quarterback position (see previous The Husky Haul article), the receiver position has come a long way since 2008, and appears to have favorable depth and talent. The receiver corps can still use upgrading, however. Williams and Perkins should help significantly in that regard.
Who plays? Jermaine Kearse and, under the circumstances, whoever wants it the most. At the same time, Kasen Williams is uniquely gifted and has the right attitude. While the competition should be stiff, most husky fans, coaches and sportswriters are looking forward to seeing what Kearse and Williams do together on the field.
Next up: guards and tackles.