August 29, 2008

Will Receivers Step Up?

Sophomore quarterback Jake Locker is not doubt the leader of Huskies. If Washington is successful this season, it will primarily be due to Locker's play. However, a big question heading into this season, was who would Locker throw to? The Huskies lost their top five wide receivers from last season, leaving the cupboard bare of experience. However, the receiving corp as a whole is easily more athletic than a season ago.

Redshirt freshman Alvin Logan will start against Oregon opposite redshirt sophomore D'Andre Goodwin.

"You just go out everyday, put in work and hope you are going to play," said Logan. "I realized it was going to happen the last couple days of camp. Coach came to us and told us our roles. He told me I was going to be in on the first play of the game, and I said 'wow'."

However, early playing time factored into Logan's decision to come to Montlake.

"When I was being recruited, Coach [Eric] Yarber showed me the depth chart and told me that after everyone graduated, I would need to step up," explained Logan. "With all of the seniors leaving, I knew there was going to be nothing but young guys left."

One of those guys is true freshman Jermaine Kearse, Logan's backup.

"At first I didn't," responded Kearse when asked if he expected to be in the two deep. "But as practice progressed, I expected to have a little spot in there. I worked hard in practice and competed throughout the camp."

Kearse may not possess experience, but he's hungry to compete at the Pac-10 level, and feels the receiving corp as a whole feels the same.

"I feel like I bring intensity and aggressiveness. I feel like I bring emotion to the game," expressed Kearse. "The whole receiving corp - we bring passion to the game. We go out there, work hard and try to make plays."

Another true freshman looking to make a splash is Kearse's high school teammate, tight end Kavario Middleton. Middleton was Washington's top recruit for the 2008 class, and has not disappointed in camp. Middleton is listed as the backup to senior Michael Gottlieb. However, Gottlieb has been sidelined with a hamstring injury and it appears like he will not be available for the season opener. In his absence, Middleton may have the chance to start. Middleton is pleased with his progression in camp and isn't surprised to find himself in the position he's in.

"Blocking is the only thing that I'm really struggling with. I can hold my own on the line, but I've got to improve my technique a little bit. Everything else has been strong though," explained Middleton. "It kind of was the plan and one of the reasons of me coming here, was being able to play as quickly as possible."

Oregon's Autzen Stadium is regarded as one of the toughest stadiums to play in. While that may intimidate some, Kearse thrives in adverse situations.

"I took a visit to Oregon, so I have a feel for what the crowd is like. The fans are crazy, and I love it," expressed Kearse. "I love playing away games and playing in big crowds like that. When you you do good, they can't say anything, so I feed off of that and it only makes me stronger. I'm just excited to get this thing going."

Middleton falls into the same category.

"The crowd doesn't both me," said Middleton. "I've heard it all in high school, so the crowd doesn't bother me."

Logan has remained a little more modest about his trip to Eugene.

"I'm definitely nervous. I believe that if you're not nervous for a sporting event, then you're not human," said Logan. "I may be nervous, but I'm going to prepare as best as I can and try to use all of the techniques the coaches have taught me to beat Oregon."

Logan may not be the fastest receiver on the team, but he will be called upon to use his big body to block defenders on the outside.

"As Coach [Charlie] Baggett says, 'blocking is attitude'. It's not the biggest person or the fastest person, it's the attitude you have going into the play, like I'm going to block this guy. That is definitely what you have to instill in yourself if you're going to block," explained Logan. "I loved blocking in high school, and it will be easier in college, because you can cut [block]. I just love getting in there and delivering the hit instead of taking it."

Led by safety Patrick Chung, Oregon's secondary is one of the best in the Pac-10. However Kearse feels confident in the ability of the Husky receivers to play well against the Duck defenders.

"I watched a lot of film on them and I took a lot of notes on them. They're pretty aggressive, they're a pretty good secondary," said Kearse. "We have a young but very talented receiving corp, and I think we'll be able to expose any weaknesses they may have."

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