We’ll continue the position reviews with another spot that, on paper, should be a strength, and among the best in the Pac-12 in 2011.
The Huskies have proven veterans returning at receiver in seniors Jermaine Kearse (pictured above making the critical catch late in the game at Cal in an AP photo) and Devin Aguilar. They have experienced depth in the likes of James Johnson and Cody Bruns. Emerging young players such as Kevin Smith and DiAndre Campbell. And one of the better classes of incoming recruits in the nation led by Kasen Williams, the Parade Magazine Player of the Year.
The depth chart UW released after spring helpfully clarified where some of the receivers stand. Here’s a look at each spot as listed on that depth chart.
Jermaine Kearse, 6-2, 205, Sr.
James Johnson, 6-0, 201, Jr.
Devin Aguilar, 6-0, 188, Sr.
Cody Bruns, 5-11, 177, Sr.
William Chandler, 6-0, 184, So.
Kevin Smith, 6-0, 197, So.
DiAndre Campbell, 6-0, 184, RFr.
Luther Leonard, 6-2, 195, Jr.
NEWCOMERS ARRIVING IN THE FALL
Marvin Hall, 5-10, 168
Jamaal Jones, 6-2, 180
Joshua Perkins, 6-4, 198
Kasen Williams, 6-2, 210
As noted above, UW simply lists the three receiver spots as “receiver.” In a general sense, the position headed by Kearse is the split end, the one headed by Smith is flanker, and the one headed by Aguilar is the slot. Most receivers play at multiple spots, however, so most of these are not either/or type deals where the player below only will see the field if the player above is off the field. Mostly, the depth chart lists the top three receivers in the rotation, then the next three, etc.
An obvious question is where Williams will begin. Freshmen typically start behind other veterans on the first day, so I’d imagine that’s where Williams will, as well. Receiver coach Jimmie Dougherty said Williams will start out as a split end (technically the spot where Kearse is listed above). More important is simply being in the rotation of receivers who regularly get on the field —- Williams figures to do that pretty quickly.
As a group, the receivers in the spring worked on being more physical off the line and consistency.
Kearse, for one, has had obvious problems dropping passes, which seems at times to detract from all that he has accomplished for the Huskies the last two years, having been named by coaches a second-team all-conference pick after each one. Kearse caught the winning TD passes against Oregon State and WSU, and the catch pictured above against Cal, without which UW doesn’t win the game. Sure, he needs to cut down the drops. But UW isn’t in a bowl last year without him.
Aguilar battled injuries at mid-season but also had some key catches, particulary in the win at USC, and could see a vast increase from the 28 catches of a year ago.
Smith was one of the stars of the spring, healthy after a broken thumb suffered in the USC game and flashing the speed and playmaking ability that excited coaches a year ago. He has 30-40-catch potential this season.
Johnson is the enigma of the group, catching 39 passes as a true freshman in 2009 and one last season while battling nagging injuries. He was healthy in the spring and played better, but was still not as consistent as coaches would like, evidenced in his listing with the second team on the depth chart. He’ll need a good fall camp.
Bruns is a steady complementary player who could be in position to make some big plays when teammates draw more attention from the defense, as happened a few critial times a year ago (such as the big catch to keep a late drive alive against USC).
Campbell had some solid moments during the spring, enough to indicate he’ll find his way on the field this season.
Chandler is a dependable walk-on who coaches say they’d feel comfortable putting on the field if need be. Leonard has yet to see action.
Williams is obviously the freshman who will garner the most attention when camp begins. He brings a size and physical dimension that UW lacks, and having played under a heavy spotlight at Skyline, shouldn’t be too awed by the step up in competition.
UW has good depth at this spot, so each of the other three freshmen loom as guys who could either get on the field (Hall, in particular, could get into the mix as a returner) or redshirt as the Huskies will have obvious needs in 2012 when Kearse, Aguilar and Bruns will all be gone.