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Originally published Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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UW Football | Youth movement at wide receiver

On one of the youngest receiving corps in Washington football history, Curtis Shaw — with one season and five catches under his belt — counted as a grizzled veteran.

Seattle Times staff reporter

On one of the youngest receiving corps in Washington football history, Curtis Shaw — with one season and five catches under his belt — counted as a grizzled veteran.

So his departure Monday for personal reasons makes finding some capable receivers for Jake Locker and Huskies quarterbacks this year that much more of a challenge.

"Losing Curtis is definitely a big step backwards for our offense because he brought a lot to the table," said Alvin Logan, a redshirt freshman who entered UW with Shaw in 2007.

"He had a lot of attributes he brought, not only to the receiving corps but to the team, and filling his void will be difficult because we have nobody who is just the same as Curtis. But it's definitely going to create more playing time for other receivers."

And that much more of a quandary for coaches.

Shaw, who could return to the team but likely not soon, was one of the fastest players on the team. He and fellow sophomore D'Andre Goodwin were the only receivers on the roster who had caught a pass in a game for Washington.

Goodwin, who had six catches for 29 yards last year, is penciled in by UW coaches as a starter, while Shaw figured to be at least an often-used regular in the rotation.

The Huskies lost five senior receivers last year. The other seven scholarship receivers on the roster are either true or redshirt freshmen (that doesn't include Chris Polk, who played receiver in the spring but is being tried at tailback). The lone seniors on the roster are walk-ons Charles Hawkins and Chancellor Young. Young hasn't played since 2004 while at Duke, where he caught two passes.

And as is the case at other experience-challenged positions like tailback and the defensive line, Washington has little time to break in the new guys. The opener at Oregon looms in just 17 days.

"You always worry about experience," said second-year receivers coach Charlie Baggett. "There is no teacher like experience. You have young kids that come in, and they are used to playing high-school football, and they get to the big leagues and this is totally different. You don't know what kind of reaction you are going to get, even though you see them in practice all the time, when they line up in Autzen Stadium in front of that raucous crowd."

That's one reason coaches say they will try to whittle the field down to a workable number by early next week. Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano envisions going with seven receivers.

"You can't play everybody, and you can't get everybody ready for the game," Baggett said. "We have to make some decisions, and it's going to be tough."

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Logan, who has quietly become one of the more dependable receivers on the team, figures to have one spot locked up. At 217 pounds, he's the biggest receiver other than Young (6 feet, 220).

Anthony Boyles and Devin Aguilar, members of the Class of 2007 who were ineligible last year, have a step ahead of the rest after enrolling last winter and participating in spring ball.

Hawkins, who earned a scholarship last year but is again officially a walk-on, looms as a legitimate threat to earn playing time this year after a solid offseason.

That leaves four other scholarship freshmen who all are in their first camp, including in-state products Cody Bruns of Prosser and Jermaine Kearse of Lakes, who appear the most ready to contribute immediately.

Baggett praises all the freshman receivers' smarts and ability to pick up the playbook.

The numbers dictate that coaches won't really have any choice.

The Huskies are short on experience at receiver in part due to signing only one each in the recruiting classes of 2004 and 2005. (Young was also brought in as a transfer in 2005 before falling victim to academic issues and returning this year.)

The Huskies, however, have loaded up the last two years, signing a combined seven.

Eventually, UW coaches think, they'll all be good.

For now, Baggett says the litmus test of who makes the immediate cut is clear.

"Which ones," he says, "will be prepared to play a game like we've got to play that first game."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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