A position-by-position analysis of the 2014 Washington Huskies roster before national signing day on Feb. 5. Today: Wide receivers. Thursday: Tight ends.
2013 review: Even if top target Kasen Williams had been healthy, the Huskies weren’t going to produce an all-Pac-12 receiver last season. And that, ultimately, was a good thing. Certainly, Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins would’ve preferred to see their individual numbers more closely resemble their 2012 totals, when they combined for 146 receptions and 13 touchdowns. The Huskies’ shift to an up-tempo attack proved to be more diverse for the passing game — and more dangerous. Led by senior quarterback Keith Price, the passing game overall produced 260.3 yards per game with a 150.3 efficiency rating, up from 212.8 yards and a 121.7 rating in 2012. Williams, of course, was lost for the rest of the season breaking his fibula (and displacing foot ligaments) while attempting to make a leaping catch against Cal on Oct. 26. Initial estimates had him on pace for four-month recovery, so he could be back on the field by spring practices. Senior Kevin Smith, finally healthy, emerged as a top threat, leading the Huskies with 58.8 yards receiving per game on 50 total receptions and four touchdowns. Sophomore speedster Jaydon Mickens had a team-high 65 catches for 688 yards and five TDs.
2014 projected spring depth chart:
Kasen Williams, sr., 6-2, 212*
Marvin Hall, jr., 5-10, 182*
Damore’ea Stringfellow, so., 6-3, 225*
Taelon Parson, so., 6-1, 185
Jaydon Mickens, jr., 5-10, 170*
John Ross, so., 5-11, 173*
Wesley Salyer, jr., 5-9, 172
Neel Salukhe, rs-fr., 5-10, 149
2014 outlook: If Williams returns healthy, this could wind up being as good as any receiving corps in the Pac-12 next season. Stringfellow, after going through the typical ups and downs of most true freshmen, might be the No. 1 breakout candidate on the entire team. It remains to be seen exactly what type of offense the Huskies will run under new coach Chris Petersen and offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith, but any coach would love to start with those two big targets on the outside. Add in Mickens and Ross as the speed options inside, and Petersen — the “mad scientist” — could have a lot of fun scheming plays this offseason. Depth, at the moment, is a bit of a question mark. The defensive secondary is probably the thinnest position on the team, so Ross could also be a factor there again (especially if Mickens continues to entrench himself as the main slot guy). Sophomore Kendyl Taylor could also be in the mix at receiver after slitting time with the scout team last fall between offense and defense.
Position grade: A-