Steve Sarkisian borrowed from his USC lineage while explaining why freshman Darrell Daniels is being moved from receiver to tight end.
Daniels is listed at 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds, and was a highly-touted recruit as a receiver. He hasn't caught a pass this season -- though he has contributed on special teams, including a massive block on a punt return last week that was ruled illegal -- and Sarkisian thinks moving him to tight end might be the most efficient way to take advantage of his talents.
The UW coach compared Daniels to former USC tight end Fred Davis, who made a similar transition. Like Daniels, Sarkisian said, Davis "came in as a very highly touted wide receiver and kind of played some sparingly for about a year. We made a move to tight end with him. He was a big guy, just like Darrell. Strong, fast, ended up winning the Mackey Award and now starts in the NFL and is doing pretty good for himself. So we’re going to invest our time in it the rest of the season. We’ll invest our time in it in spring ball, then we’ll make really, truly a final decision once he’s had a chance to develop at the position. But I think he’s got a chance to be special at the position. He’s a strong guy, he’s almost 240 pounds, he’s extremely fast. So I think he’s got a chance there."
Speaking of big receivers, I asked Sarkisian about whether the size and strength he has at that position is partially what led him to believe this year's roster would be well-suited for UW's up-tempo attack, which often includes quick passes and bubble screens to the outside.
"It’s really critical for us, and it’s a big part of our game, getting that ball out on the perimeter," Sarkisian said. We really like the stretch the field vertically but we also like to stretch it horizontally, and having guys like Kasen Williams, Kevin Smith, Diandre Campbell, Damore'ea Stringfellow out on the perimeter blocking for Jaydon Mickens, for John Ross and for each other is really big in the execution of what we’re trying to get done offensively. We’ll continue to recruit specific type (of) receivers. We’ll have the big, strong, tall guys, but then we’ll still have some of the smaller, quicker, faster guys because they both have a role in our offense."
Williams in particular takes pride in blocking for other receivers, Sarkisian said, and that's high praise for a guy who came to UW as Parade Magazine's high-school player of the year.
"I think he’s really embraced it," Sarkisian said. "I thought what was really cool, when we got down to the 1 or 2-yard line and threw the little hitch screen to Jaydon for the touchdown last week and Kasen was the lead blocker. Kasen might have celebrated more on that touchdown than he did on a touchdown catch that he’s gotten. I think he knows when he does that, he’s becoming a complete football player. I think there’s a prideful nature to that when you’re a competitive human being, and Kasen obviously is that.
"Granted, he made some great catches for us in that game too, and had a couple of them called back, even. He’s such a dominant force when it’s 1 on 1 and he has the ability to go up and make plays on the football, but for him to embrace all of the aspects of the game, I think, is just speaking to his maturity, like our team, we’ve matured as a team. I think he’s a prime example of that from a guy, true freshman coming in highly touted to third-year junior and embracing blocking for a touchdown and celebrating as much for that maybe as catching one."