We’ll continue our position reviews with two more areas of intrigue, if for different reasons — wide receiver and tight end.
At receiver, there’s one key question — who steps up and replaces the production of the departed Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar?
I know how many will respond to that, especially when it comes to Kearse, pointing to his well-documented issues with drops.
But the consistent production of those two also can’t be ignored as each left UW among the top 10 receivers in school history, each also going out on a high note, Kearse with five catches for 198 yards against Baylor in the Alamo Bowl and Aguilar with five for 90.
Here’s where each ended up on the school’s all-time receiving list:
Receiver Years Rec. Yds.
1. Reggie Williams, 2001-03, 243, 3,698
2. Jermaine Kearse, 2008-11, 180, 2,871
3. Paul Skansi, 1979-82, 161, 1,992
4. Vince Weathersby, 1985-88, 143, 1,048
5. Mario Bailey, 1988-91, 141, 2,306
6. Jerome Pathon, 1995-97, 138, 2,275
7. Devin Aguilar, 2008-11, 131, 1,802
8. Charles Frederick, 2001-04, 121, 1,736
9. Sonny Shackelford, 2003-06, 119, 1,648
10. Anthony Allen, 1979-82, 118, 1,693
The two also finished as UW’s two leading receivers this year, Kearse getting 47 catches for 699 yards and Aguilar 42 for 611. So for all the criticism those two sometimes took, the numbers bear out their value.
Before going further, a look at the receiving roster:
Cody Bruns, 5-11, 175, Sr.
James Johnson, 6-1, 198, Sr.
Kevin Smith, 6-0, 209, Jr.
DiAndre Campbell, 6-1, 195, RSo.
Kasen Williams, 6-2, 212, So.
Jamaal Jones, 6-2, 180, RFr.
Joshua Perkins, 6-3, 197, RFr.
Jaydon Mickens, 5-11, 175, Fr.
Kendyl Taylor, 5-10, 196, Fr.
Dwayne Washington, 6-1, 205, Fr.
Marvin Hall, 5-10, 175, Fr.
(Walk-ons on the roster include William Chandler, 6-0, 191, Jr.)
Williams, pictured in a John Lok photo in his famous Apple Cup leap, is the obvious candidate to take over as the go-to receiver after making 36 catches for 427 yards as a true freshman. Having another year in the system and the playbook should allow him to line up all over the field and for the Huskies to try to find the best matchups to exploit his athleticism — he was generally kept to an outside position this season. There obviously doesn’t appear any reason he won’t emerge as UW’s next great receiver.
Johnson is the most-experienced of the receivers and if the season started today, would probably be the other starter for the Huskies (assuming a two-receiver set). Johnson had something of a bounceback season with 28 catches for 366 yards last season, though it was again marred by a late-season injury that slowed him after a fast start — he didn’t have a catch in the final four regular-season games but had two for 36 yards and a touchdown in the Alamo Bowl.
UW needs Johnson to stay healthy and play week-in and week-out at the level he has displayed at times throughout his Husky career.
Smith would be next in line, but recently had surgery to repair a knee injury suffered prior to the Alamo Bowl. UW coach Steve Sarkisian said he would be out for a significant period of time, so the assumption is that means he likely wouldn’t return until fall camp. Smith had 15 catches for 208 yards last season and if healthy, would seem a candidate for a big leap in production.
A real wildcard is Bruns, who redshirted last season in part so he could come back and add experienced depth this year with Kearse and Aguilar departing. As a fifth-year senior, he might also be in line for a breakout season. Certainly, he will finally have the kind of opportunity he has never had previously in his UW career.
Those four, however, are it for experience at the receiving spot as UW will have six scholarship receivers next year who are either true or redshirt freshmen, and another in DiAndre Campbell who is a sophomore who played sparingly.
Going by star ratings and recruiting battles won, there appears to be lots of talent in that group and it won’t be a surprise if two or three emerge as contributors in 2012. Obviously, Jones and Perkins — having a year in the system — will have a little leg up. Sarkisian also said he expects one or two of the incoming quartet of true freshmen receivers (best to just consider Hall a member of the Class of 2012 for all practical purposes) to also factor in.
As stated at the top, Kearse and Aguilar were mainstays the last four years, starting a combined 61 games since 2008, meaning the 2012 season will provide as much of a changing-of-the-guard at receiver as UW has seen in a while.
Of course, UW will also have one other huge target in 2012 that will take a lot of pressure off some of the newcomers on the outside — tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. That means it’s probably best just to throw the tight end spot into this position overview, as well, so here’s the roster:
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, 6-6, 258, So.
Michael Hartvigson, 6-6, 254, RSo.
Evan Hudson, 6-6, 260, RSo.
(Walk-ons on the roster include Cameron Salley, 6-4, 236, Jr.)
At this spot, the area of intrigue is simply wondering how good Seferian-Jenkins is going to be.
Seferian-Jenkins finished with 41 receptions for 538 yards as a true freshman in 2011, the third-best season for a UW tight end in yards and fourth-best in receptions in school history.
He seems an All-American waiting to happen and should rewrite the Husky record book for receptions, yards and touchdowns by a tight end (though he may have just two years to do it as he’s already being regarded as a future first-rounder).
Hartvigson had eight catches for 30 yards and one touchdown this year (though it probably should have been nine for about 60 or so) while Hudson — a former walk-on who was placed on scholarship for last season — saw ample playing time as a blocker in multiple tight end sets. UW is as well-stocked at tight end as it has been in years.