With no disrespect to Whitworth University’s Jake DeGooyer, or Puget Sound’s Adam Kniffin – or even this week’s duo of standout receivers in Willamette’s Jake Knecht or Jake Turner – Pacific Lutheran cornerback Tayler Angevine has stayed stride for stride with arguably the best pass-catcher in the Northwest.
His name is Kasen Williams, and he now plays for the University of Washington.
Now, Angevine has not been on the same football field with Williams since the two have been in college. But at a Greg Barton Academy passing camp a few years back, they tangled in high school.
On paper, it appeared a mismatch – Williams, a Skyline standout, was 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds; Angevine, out of Kentlake, was 5-7, 155 pounds.
But Angevine showed so much determination and surprising physicality, Barton contacted PLU defensive coordinator Craig McCord to tell him that Angevine could be an inviting prospect.
He has been more than that: Angevine is the team’s top cornerback as a senior, and shares the lead for interceptions with junior Jonny Volland (four). The Lutes’ 12 interceptions in five games rank 11th in the country, and are the most in a season since 2008.
The school record for interceptions is 41, set by the 1980 NAIA national-championship squad.
The strength of McCord’s defense is in the middle, but Angevine gives PLU a dependable playmaker on the perimeter.
“You watch him play, and he does stuff I have not seen from a cornerback in a long time,” McCord said. “He could be 20 yards off (a receiver), and they run a 5-yard hitch route and he is immediately up there hitting the guy.
“We ask him to do a lot of things, so he is a player-coach for us. He has done a great job leadership-wise.”
When asked to recall that afternoon at Skyline High School, where he was filmed defending Williams in one-on-one drills, Angevine downplayed the account, saying “it got twisted to something more than it was.”
“I ran routes in the slot, and Jake (Heaps) threw to me. And I would also guard Kasen on routes, and show some defensive back skills,” Angevine said.
“Kasen was a sophomore at the time, and basically was as fast as I was as a senior, which was hard to believe. … I remember him going deep on me, and he really pushed me and it was hard to keep up. He obviously wasn’t trying to whip me and stuff. It was more to demonstrate footwork and acceleration.”
It’s no easy take to push Angevine around, either. He might be short, but at Kentlake he was an inside runner who got 18 to 22 carries a game.
“I could not shy away from the contact,” Angevine said. “I take it personally that a person thinks he is more physical than you.”
Now a three-year starter at PLU, Angevine faces a completely revamped Willamette offense today in Puyallup. Gone are the days defensive backs were mostly used in run support against the Bearcats’ “fly” offense. Today, it would not be surprising to see Willamette chuck it 50 times or more through the air.
Which gives Angevine more chances to lay a lick on a receiver.
“He is very quick … and loves to come up and strike people,” McCord said. “I think he knows it is his last year, and he plays every play like it is his last.”
NO. 22 WILLAMETTE (6-0) AT PACIFIC LUTHERAN (3-2)
12:30 p.m. PDT, Sparks Stadium, Puyallup
The Series: PLU leads 24-16-2, including a 13-6 victory in last season’s season finale in Salem, Ore. The teams have split the eight games in PLU coach Scott Westering’s tenure.
What to watch: What a stunning transformation for this Willamette offense, which became known nationally for its vaunted “fly” attack under former coaches Dan Hawkins and Mark Speckman. After Speckman left for Menlo College, the Bearcats brought aboard Brian Sheppard as their offensive coordinator under new coach Glen Fowles. And in a few months, Sheppard has turned Willamette into the nation’s top-rated passing offense (392.2 yards per game). QB Josh Dean (178 of 259, 2,234 yards, 27 TDs) is good, but WRs Jake Knecht (10 TD receptions) and Jake Turner, and TE Benny Weischedel are better. … The Lutes are undefeated on the road (3-0) after back-to-back wins at Lewis & Clark and Pacific, but winless at home (0-2). And while QB Dalton Ritchey (104 of 168, 1,453 yards, nine TDs) and the offense have continued to improve every week, PLU’s defense has been outstanding from the start. Its plus-10 turnover ratio ranks No. 8 in the country.
What’s at stake: Facing their fourth ranked opponent this season, the Lutes have certainly played the more difficult schedule. And they can dash Willamette’s conference title hopes with a win.
TNT pick: PLU, 38-35Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com @ManyHatsMilles firstname.lastname@example.org