When the University of Washington takes the field against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Cactus Bowl on Jan. 2 in Tempe, Arizona, Huskies receiver Jaydon Mickens will face the team he nearly chose to play for.
Mickens, a junior at UW, took one of his official recruiting visits to Stillwater as a four-star prospect at Dorsey High in Los Angeles.
He gave the Cowboys strong consideration, mostly due to their pass-heavy offensive style under coach Mike Gundy.
Mickens on Saturday reflected on that visit, which included meeting Oklahoma State super-booster T. Boone Pickens.
“They throw the ball a lot. As a recruit and as a young guy, you see the third receiver having 70 catches — it puts you at awe,” said Mickens, who leads the Huskies with 53 catches for 535 yards. “So going out there and seeing something different … just experiencing something new. Of course, they came off the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, so that opened my eyes even more, like, ‘Wow, this program is a power right now.’ And I felt that I could contribute over there.
“But through the grace of God, things changed, and I’m here. And I’m happy here.”
However, he did have a fine time on his Stillwater visit. According to a Scout.com story from Jan. 15, 2012, Mickens had nothing but good things to say about Oklahoma State, and described the OSU campus as “one of the most incredible things I have seen.”
And their facilities aren’t bad either, right?
“I’m at Washington now,” Mickens said with a laugh. “But respect to them. They have some top-of-the-line facilities. It’s amazing.”
But, he added, laughing again, “we do, as well.”
With the Huskies’ bowl game still nearly three weeks away, their practices have put more of an emphasis on giving younger players a chance to take some more meaningful repetitions.
And one position group that will certainly need those young players next season is the defensive line, which will lose starters Danny Shelton, Hau’oli Kikaha, Evan Hudson and Andrew Hudson to graduation.
Defensive line coach Jeff Choate spoke Sunday about what the future might hold for the Huskies’ younger, inexperienced defensive linemen, some of whom are already in the rotation.
“I think it’s going to be an interesting group. I think JoJo (Mathis) is a high-effort guy. He’s what I call a splash player — he’s going to make a lot of plays, just because of the nature of his effort,” Choate said. “I think you’re going to have a guy like Will Dissly, who’s got a really high football intellect and is going to be able to get guys lined up and be a really productive, consistent player. I think you’ve got a guy like Elijah (Qualls), who’s got a lot of game reps this year and matured.”
And, Choate said, 6-foot-4, 346-pound lineman Vita Vea, who redshirted this season, will be a player to watch.
“Vita … I mean, come on,” Choate said. “That guy has more physical talent than Danny does. But he’s not where Danny is in terms of the reps that he’s had, understanding the game the way that Danny does. So that’s the challenge for us as coaches, to push them in that direction.”
Los Angeles Pierce College safety Ezekiel Turner announced his commitment to the Huskies on his Twitter page Sunday.
Turner is a three-star rated prospect by Scout.com. He visitied UW earlier this month, and chose the Huskies over Oklahoma among other schools. He is listed by Scout at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, and has four years of eligibility remaining to play three seasons.