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Originally published December 7, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Page modified December 8, 2012 at 4:52 PM

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Surprise — Kasen Williams moving up Washington receiving lists

Sophomore receiver Kasen Williams caught 71 passes during the regular season, fifth-most in a season by a Washington receiver. If he catches three passes in the Las Vegas Bowl, Williams would be third, trailing only two seasons by Reggie Williams.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Kasen Williams left Skyline acclaimed as one of the greatest high-jumpers in Washington high-school history.

So it should be little surprise that he leapt into rarefied air this season as a sophomore for the UW football team.

Williams finished the regular season with 71 catches, fifth-most in school history. And with a date in the Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State on Dec. 22, he'll likely move into third. He needs just one catch to tie Dane Looker (72 in 1998) for fourth and two to tie Jerome Pathon (73 in 1997) for third.

If he makes at least three catches in the bowl game, he'll rank behind only Reggie Williams, who had 94 catches in 2002 and 89 in 2003.

Kasen Williams expressed surprise Friday when told where his season stood in the all-time rankings, saying, "I didn't even know that."

Maybe it was because of the tumultuous way the regular season ended in Pullman. It was easy in the aftermath to forget the eight catches Williams made in the loss to the Cougars.

Maybe it's also that, as Williams says, "It definitely feels like I could have done a lot more."

As the numbers indicate, Williams did his share, especially considering the struggles of an offense has averaged 62 yards per game fewer than it did in 2011.

But Williams said there's still a lot of room for improvement.

Not that there was often a lot of room to roam this season.

Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (63 catches for 791 yards) were the only consistent receiving options for quarterback Keith Price. Freshman Jaydon Mickens was next with 18 catches.

Defenses focused on Williams and Seferian-Jenkins, so the Huskies moved Williams around the field, lining him up inside and outside.

"They were able to move me around a lot more and find different ways to get me the ball," Williams said.

Williams' strength is his leaping ability and 6-foot-2, 216-pound frame and not necessarily his speed. As UW coach Steve Sarkisian said at midseason, Williams is not a guy who "is going to be open by 10 yards behind the defense."

When the Huskies were struggling at midseason, Sarkisian talked about Price needing to have more trust in the offense. What Sarkisian meant is that Williams and Seferian-Jenkins "are guys that when it's one-on-one, that's open. And understanding that and throwing the ball to a place that gives them a chance to make their plays is what is needed."

Williams caught seven or more passes in each of the last three games.

Generally, though, he caught those tightly covered. Williams said figuring how to elude defenders is the next step in his progress. Williams averaged 11 yards per catch, the lowest of receivers who ranked among the top 10 in the Pac-12 in receptions.

"It seems like most of the time I'm catching the ball and getting hit or running out of bounds," he said. "So that's going to be another emphasis for me this year and this offseason is getting better with yards after the catch."

And while Williams readily accepts the "possession receiver" designation, he also says he'd like to become more of a deep threat, something that will also be an offseason emphasis.

"I am a possession receiver," he said. "But I see myself as a deep threat, too."

Note

• Seferian-Jenkins found out this week that he did not win the John Mackey Award, given annually to the best tight end in the country. He had been one of three finalists for the award, which went to Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert.

"It's an honor just to be considered a top-three tight end in the country," he said. "Tyler Eifert is a great tight end, and he's the best tight end in college football — to them. I'm happy for him."

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

On Twitter @bcondotta

Climbing the charts
Kasen Williams' 71 catches ranks fifth on the Huskies' season receptions list, with one game to play.
Rec Player, year Avg TD
94 Reggie Williams, 2002 15.5 11
89 Reggie Williams, 2003 12.5 8
73 Jerome Pathon, 1997 17.8 8
72 Dane Looker, 1998 10.6 5
71 Kasen Williams, 2012 11.0 6

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