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Originally published November 26, 2011 at 8:33 PM | Page modified November 27, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Steve Kelley

The future looking bright for Huskies

Washington's football future will look a lot like it did in Saturday night's lopsided 38-21 Apple Cup win over Washington State.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Kasen Williams called his CenturyLink leap more of a high jump than a long jump. He should know. He won the state high-school championship in both last spring.

Actually it was more a hybrid leap, equal parts high and long jump.

Late in the first half, in what turned out to be the winning drive, Williams ran a crossing route, caught Keith Price's pass and found Washington State cornerback Nolan Washington coming at him with bad intentions.

Williams said it was instinct that told him to leap over Washington, something in an emerging athlete's head that tells him to do whatever it takes to make the play.

"As soon as I turned my head around I saw it was me and him," Williams said. "I figured, why not? Let's try to make something happen right here."

So Williams hurdled or high-jumped or long-jumped over the Cougar corner, turned upfield and gained 18 yards. He made Nolan Washington look like an inanimate object.

"It was ridiculous," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said of the CenturyLink Leap.

"That just solidified what he's worth," Price said.

Then for an encore, Williams caught a 21-yard touchdown pass on the next play, his second touchdown of the game, giving the Huskies a 21-14 halftime lead. It was Price's 28th touchdown pass of the season, tying a school record he later broke in the game.

The future will look like this:

Kasen Williams running free down the sideline, or loping, easily eating up yards across the middle of the field, finding seams in the defense, making big plays.

"Oh, my god, it's going to be lovely," sophomore Price said of his future with Williams.

Washington's football future will look a lot like it did in Saturday night's lopsided 38-21 Apple Cup win over the Cougars.

"I'm pretty excited," Sarkisian said when asked about two more years of Price to Williams. "They've got a nice rapport. The future's very bright for that combination.

"I think you throw (freshman tight end) Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) into that mix as well. Those are two really talented kids who have gotten better as the year's gone on."

Williams was Nolan Washington's worst nightmare. Get used to these games. The multi-tooled true freshman beat Washington and virtually one-handed a 16-yard touchdown pass from Price on a third-and-six in the first quarter.

"He just made a play for me," Price said.

On the day his high school, Skyline, advanced to the state-title game for the seventh time in eight years, Williams had a breakout night. He finished his first Apple Cup with five catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns.

"It definitely takes time," Price said, talking about Williams' growth. "He's still getting used to the system and getting used to the calls. But I think he's adjusted well."

Williams was the state's Gatorade track and field athlete of the year, but he's a track star who is a football player first. Think Randy Moss without the attitude. He is bright and athletic and able to leap small cornerbacks in a single bound.

He's the kind of prototypical receiver who makes scouts at the NFL combine drool. Give him a sliver of space, and he can turn a 5-yard pass into something memorable.

Ask Nolan Washington.

"I've been expecting a game like this from him," running back Chris Polk said. "Watching him in practice, I just knew he was going to be something special. It was just a matter of time."

Think of the all-time Husky passing combinations: Cody Pickett to Reggie Williams, Sonny Sixkiller to Jim Krieg, Billy Joe Hobert-and-or-Mark Brunell to Mario Bailey, Brock Huard to Jerome Pathon.

Price to Williams is the logical successor to these historical combinations. At 6 feet 2, 212 pounds, Kasen Williams is a thicker version of Reggie Williams.

"He's a great competitor. He's a winner," Sarkisian said of Kasen. "I think we're going to get used to seeing plays like that (leap). The expectation level for plays like that will start to grow and grow."

Give them another 25 or so games, and imagine what they might do. In his first 12 college games, Williams has 33 catches and six touchdowns.

"We going to be real special," Williams said. "I can't wait to see what happens."

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com

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