BY Todd Dybas 08:14AM 01/05/2011

UW football unit review: Wide receivers

Of all the groups, based on expectations, the wide receivers may have been the most disappointing for the Huskies last season.

Washington Huskies wide receiver Jermaine Kearse catches a touchdown in the second quarter against Syracuse. (Drew Sellers/Sportspress Northwest)

All week here at Sportspress Northwest, we’ll breakdown the different units that comprise the Washington football team. A look back and a look forward for the (gasp!) 7-6 Huskies of 2010. On to the wide receivers:

What was thought prior to the season: One of the strongest parts of the team. The return of Devin Aguilar, James Johnson and Jermaine Kearse for year two in Steve Sarkisian’s system was thought to be a boon for Jake Locker and the Washington offense. With backups D’Andre Goodwin and Cody Bruns, Washington also had depth at the position.

What we saw during the season: A mixed bag. Kearse had big moments, Aguilar had few, Johnson had none. Aguilar caught 14 fewer passes, and also had a drop in yardage and touchdowns. That was a banner season compared to Johnson. The sophomore finished the season with one catch. That’s 38 less than last season. Johnson was hurt, then stuck in the doghouse. Kearse finished with more than 1,000 receiving yards and had receiving increases in all categories. Goodwin finished his senior year with a career-high four touchdowns and 530 yards receiving. We also saw several drops and the Washington receivers often roughed up by opposing defensive backs.

What’s next for this group: Only Goodwin is gone, and Johnson is waiting to replace him. Johnson looked much better at the end of the year and practiced with the first-teamers toward the latter part of the season. Kearse, if he doesn’t make the mistake of entering the NFL draft this year, Johnson and Aguilar should return as starters. Washington likes Kevin Smith to be part of the rotation. Bruns should contribute, as could Jordan Polk. Incoming freshman Kasen Williams is expected to have an impact. Of the starters, two will be seniors (Kearse and Aguilar), and Johnson will be a junior. Projected, super-duper early depth chart:

WR Aguilar

WR Kearse

WR Johnson

Like the offensive line, this bunch is a veteran group bolstered by an incoming hotshot.


  • Mickey Mouse

    Kearse needs to learn to run exacting routes, then to hold onto the ball.

    He has been a real disappointment, given his talent.

    It’s about discipline and focus, then he’ll have it, big time.

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  • Sanchito

    James Johnson was in the doghouse? What are you basing that on? He had a badly sprained ankle, tried to come back too soon, then got sick and missed practice time. By the time he was really healthy at the end of the year the rotation was set with Goodwin essentially filling in Johnson’s old role.

    Saying a kid was in the doghouse when he wasn’t is irresponsible. Makes it seem like he wasn’t doing what the coaches wanted and that was not the case with Johnson.

    • Chuck

      Good point.

  • Chuck

    I think that the emphasis on Kearse’s few drops is inaccurate. He was one of 10 receivers from BCS conferences with over 1,000 yards, he was tied for 4th among BCS conference receivers with 12 TDs. He accomplished these things in a passing game that was anemic for much of the year.

    He continued to go up and get balls in coverage, and he ran away from DBs at times, showing more speed than I thought he had. He can improve a lot next year, becoming more physical and consistent, but if you call his season disappointing, you weren’t paying very close attention.

  • Bob Bobberson

    Kearse dropped balls in traffic consistently, he disappeared against Nebraska twice, he quit on routes a lot. Watch some video if you don’t believe it.

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  • JD

    Bob, I don’t know what consistant is to you. 1000 yds and 12 scores are numbers any program would crave. Good but not great may be your issue. He drops but not consistantly, that duck don’t quack. There is so much upside here that small but improved playmaking adjustments will be made. I’m not the only one that see’s this but if we can get the WR’s the ball next year they will shine as a core group. You don’t win 4 straight including the win in the Holiday bowl without good consistant performances. Aside from Polk and the linebackers the wideouts were as consistant as any group on the field, period.

  • Steve Pitell

    I’ve come to expect more from you guys. This was way too lightweight. I suppose you will have a complete section on the tight ends? That seems silly. Tight ends can/should work with the WR’s and add a dimension to the entire passing game. Jenkins hopefully will fill that void which was missing from this years passing game. Also missing from your analysis is any mention of what we all saw happen to our receivers vs. Neb. (Negating them almost entirely) Is this a coaching problem or talent problem? Was the disappointing season from the WR’s caused by talent problems or QB problems or coaching problems? Since our QB will be changing next year that seems to need to be included in any discussion of the receivers.

    I agree our WR’s were disappointing, but also feel that there should be a limit to how critical sports reporters should be towards non-professional athletes, and therefore can understand why you might not go on in depth in that regard, but certainly the coaches are fair game and you did not mention them in this article as well. Doesn’t the WR coach deserve a grade and analysis?

    My biggest gripe about SportsPressNW is how little you guys write. The quality of writing is first rate, but you seem to be set at the same writing speed you were when you were print sports reporters, and that won’t cut it on the internet. The internet is a lot about quantity. Churn it out. It’s easy. I know Art Thiel could churn out two or three articles per day. They might not be up to his print quality, but that is not nearly as important as keeping your audience as long as possible, and getting them to check back twice per day. One way to increase content quantity is to operate a great forum for would be sports writers. Personally, I spend a lot of my internet time reading the the P-I Seahawks Forum. Unlike print journalism it doesn’t actually cost any money to publish reader feedback or create a forum for what amounts to guest writers. Maybe you already have a forum and I just missed it….if that’s the case disregard that part but make it more visible.

    I’m just saying….

  • Bob Bobberson

    More quantity would be good.

    As a parent of college athlete, it’s hard to tell when coverage is too severe but there is a definite line that gets crossed and you want to say they’re still kids.

    For example I would love to point out that this group disappeared from game to game and caused Locker to look bad from time to time, while some of the more visible of these players affected terrible body language off and on the whole season. None of these guys caught the ball in traffic. But if you do that and name names it’s not productive. Yet Locker was smeared from coast to coast after the first Nebraska game. None of them stepped up and said, hey it was my fault. Tough thing to discern how far to go.