Kearse, Aguilar climb UW career list
Washington's two leading receivers entering the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl remain the steady pair of Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Dec. 29, UW vs. Baylor @ San Antonio, 6 p.m., ESPN
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When Kasen Williams made a literal leap over a Washington State defender in the Apple Cup, he also made something of a metaphorical jump to the top of the pack of UW's receiving corps.
The true freshman from Skyline High made 19 catches in the last four games, showing exactly why he'd been tabbed as maybe the best high-school receiving prospect in the country in 2010.
Exciting as Williams' emergence has been, though, Washington's two leading receivers entering the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl remain the steady pair of Jermaine Kearse (42 catches, 501 yards) and Devin Aguilar (36-521).
Each will play their final game as a Husky against Baylor, each having already etched themselves in UW's record book.
Kearse will leave school second among all UW receivers in catches and yards (he has 175 catches for 2,673 yards, both well behind career leader Reggie Williams), and with 28 touchdown receptions has a chance to catch Mario Bailey (who had 30) at the top of the list. Aguilar has somewhat quietly moved into seventh in receptions with 126 catches and is 11th with 1,712 yards but needs just 55 yards to move as high as seventh in that category.
The two have combined to start 59 games at UW (Kearse 35, Aguilar 24), giving the coaches a comforting dependability.
"They've been great for us," UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Saturday. "I think both of them have a very high football IQ, they are extremely bright, and to their credit they work every day, and I think sometimes they are not appreciated as much as maybe they should be for what they have done for us the last three years."
Indeed, UW coaches, Kearse and Aguilar think observers have sometimes fixated too much on what the pair haven't done than what they have, most notably, dropping passes at inopportune times.
That's particularly true of Kearse, who at times has been a lightning rod of fan discontent. And Sarkisian notes such discontent has a quicker path than ever to get from fan to player.
"I think in general heat on everybody has increased because of social media and blogs and the Internet and it's a lot easier for people to voice their opinion than in the past when people didn't have that avenue. It was just at the water cooler at work," he said. "Now they can get it to anybody. But Jermaine has had a tremendous career, really, really proud of him. He's been a real key part and component to changing the culture here. He's made some huge plays for us in some big games and I would expect him to have a really big game in the Alamo Bowl as well."
While UW coaches say it's impossible for players not to know what is being said, Kearse maintained he's never really let it bother him.
"It doesn't get to me," he said. "I don't read the papers or anything like that. I just enjoy all my time, enjoy all my supporters and the people that stuck with us through the 0-12 season to now."
Kearse thought briefly about leaving UW after last season and declaring for the NFL, having been named to the All-Pac-10 second team as both a sophomore and a junior.
He said he doesn't regret staying, though his numbers have dropped — he had 50 catches in 2009 and 64 in 2010.
Receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty said the main reason is UW has a lot more receivers to throw to this year, including Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
"We have five wideouts that have a chance to catch the ball and the catches are being spread out more and it's helped us grow as an offense not to be so one-dimensional and throwing the ball to just one guy all the time, as we had to do the year before," he said.
Indeed, UW has seven receivers this year with 15 or more catches (including running back Chris Polk), compared to last year when only five were in double figures.
Dougherty also said opponents, burned in the past by Kearse's big plays, have defended him differently this year to try to prevent long gains. That's caused Kearse and Aguilar to somewhat shift roles. Kearse, who came into the year averaging 16.3 yards per catch, is at 11.9 this year. Aguilar, who came into the year averaging 13.2, is now at a team-high 14.5.
Four receivers with 15 or more catches this year are set to return next season — Williams (33-408), Seferian-Jenkins (36-479), James Johnson (26-330) and Kevin Smith (15-208). Cody Bruns, who had seven catches in 2010, redshirted this year and will return next season as well, and also in the mix is redshirt freshman DiAndre Campbell (who has two catches for eight yards this year) and two freshmen who redshirted this year — Josh Perkins and Jamaal Jones.
Sarkisian, though, said Kearse and Aguilar won't be quickly forgotten.
"Hopefully we can send them out with a bang (in the Alamo Bowl) and end their careers on a really high note," he said.
• UW has gotten a commitment from defensive tackle Josh Banks of Delta College in San Joaquin, Calif. Banks told the Stockton Record he chose UW over Oregon State. Listed at 6 feet 3, 270 pounds, Banks is the 21st known commit in UW's Class of 2011.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com
|Top receivers in UW history|
|1. Reggie Williams||2001-03||243||3,698|
|2. Jermaine Kearse||2008-11||175||2,673|
|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||126||1,712|
|8. Charles Frederick||2001-04||121||1,736|
|9. Sonny Shackelford||2003-06||119||1,648|
|10. Anthony Allen||1979-82||118||1,693|
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