Look at the picture for a few moments and process what’s happening. That’s 6-foot-2 man-child Kasen Williams leaping over Washington State cornerback Nolan Washington in last year’s Apple Cup.
It’s ridiculous. The average person doesn’t leap over another person like that.
Then again, from the time Williams stepped on a football field, he’s never been close to being average.
Perhaps no play in Williams’ solid freshman season better exemplifies all that he can do on a football field. And in a way, that play, that image is what faces Williams this season.
With the departures of Devin Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse and their 42 combined career touchdowns catches, and the injury to senior James Johnson that will keep him out the first month of the season, the onus falls on Williams to become the player Huskies fans and football experts envisioned before he had even taken a snap in a college game – a game changer, a next-level player, a Huskies great.
The question is obvious: Is Kasen Williams ready to make the next great leap in his career, the leap from potential to playmaker, from sophomore to superstar?
Realistically for the Huskies to have success this season and beyond, Williams needs to make that ascent.
Sounding confident but not cocky, Williams doesn’t shy away from the question. He grabs it the way he latches onto a spiraling football.
“I want to hold myself to that high of a level,” he said. “I expect big things from myself this season. I want to take that next step.”
It’s easy to say, but not to d, even for someone as talented and gifted as Williams.
It started during offseason weight training when Williams somehow added about 10 pounds of muscle to a frame that seemed to have no room for it.
“It was workouts every day,” he said.
It continued this summer when he and quarterback Keith Price spent hours working on pass routes.
“The only way to get better is if we continue working,” he said. “You have to do the extra stuff, the stuff other people weren’t doing.”
It carried over to practice where Williams has played with a high level of intensity and focus that was only seen periodically last season.
“I want to prove something this year,” he said. “There were a lot of times last season where I left practice and felt I didn’t work has hard as I should have. I’m not doing that this year.”
This year, he’s battled and jawed with cornerbacks, chastised himself for dropped passes and used his increased size and strength to manhandle defenders.
“You just don’t get anointed as the top receiver,” coach Steve Sarkisian said. “You earn it.”
It’s something Williams started to grasp in spring practice after a few sluggish outings.
“To make that next step, you have to establish that attitude from the first day,” Williams said. “And it has to be every day.”
His coaches have noticed the change.
“Kasen has had a very, very consistent camp,” Sarkisian said. “He’s playing at a high level and he’s really embraced the opportunity. He sees it out there for himself.”
Some players can get satisfied with being good, but not Williams. He’s always courted greatness.
In his four years at Skyline High School, he grew into one of the most decorated and dominant receivers in Washington high school history. As a senior, he was on everyone’s All-American list, and he was named the Parade All-America National Player of the Year – the first for a player from this state.
And he’s the son of a Huskies legend. His father, Aaron Williams, is a 1978 graduate of Wilson High who set the state high school record for the triple jump that stood 28 years. He was a star receiver for the Huskies from 1979-82. Kasen wears the same No. 2 for UW as his father.
From the moment Kasen Williams committed to UW, he was engulfed by hype and expectations. He was supposed to be better than Mario Bailey and Reggie Williams from the moment he donned the purple and gold.
And yet he was 18 years old and trying to adjust to playing football in one of the best conferences in the country. There were ups and downs. Brilliant catches, highlight-reel plays and touchdown catches, along with nagging injuries, botched assignments and dropped passes. He caught 36 passes for 427 yards and six touchdowns. Respectable numbers, but not good enough for Williams.
“I definitely have a lot of expectations for myself and they are very high,” he said.
As high as some Huskies fans?
“I don’t pay attention to what people say on the Internet and things,” he said. “It’s about what I want to do and need to do to help the team win.”
To do that, he needs to take another leap, a leap he can make. It’s a leap into a role he seems destined for.
It’s the leap to superstardom.
“I want the ball as often as I can get it and make things happen when I get it,” he said. “I want to be a playmaker. I think they expect me to be one. I prepared myself this season to do some things and that’s my goal. I want to prove something this year.”firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8483