By his own admission, K.J. Carta-Samuels has been a different player during the University of Washington’s preseason football camp.
He should be. It is the redshirt junior backup quarterback’s fourth fall camp with coach Chris Petersen and the Huskies.
This version of Carta-Samuels appears firmly in control of the second-team offense: He has been decisive in his reads and passes. When pressure hits him the pocket, his rhythm doesn’t seem unchanged as he steps up and delivers accurate passes on time.
If there was a quarterback competition for the No. 2 spot behind Jake Browning — Carta-Samuels has settled it with relative ease.
“I feel like a completely different player, honestly, than I’ve ever played before,” Carta-Samuels said. “In terms of the confidence piece, it’s all there.”
So why now?
Carta-Samuels points out he came from a run-heavy high school offense at Bellarmine Prep in Saratoga, California, so his exposure in the pass game was limited.
Two years ago, as a redshirt freshman at the UW, he was thrust into starting duty when Browning was sidelined by a shoulder injury.
It came against then-No. 10 Stanford. He completed nine of 21 passes for 118 yards. He rushed for a touchdown in the Huskies’ 31-14 loss.
Last season, his only playing time came off the bench. His first pass was a 4-yard touchdown against Rutgers. But he only attempted 13 passes the entire season.
And yet, in this fall camp, Carta-Samuels has looked like a vastly-improved passer.
“I want to say it’s experience,” Carta-Samuels said. “I think also (it’s) confidence in my stroke. I am very confident in the way I am throwing the ball. ... When you feel like that, when you feel like you can throw the ball anywhere at any time, it is a pretty powerful feeling.”
That confidence has certainly caught the attention of Petersen, who offered high praise about the 6-foot-2, 221-pounder.
“He should be brimming with confidence — he’s played well. He’s done a really nice job,” Petersen said. “I am really proud of K.J. He comes to work every day to get better, and it is showing up. He’s made some really big-tine plays.
“You can’t fake confidence. You have to earn confidence through your execution and all your hours you put in.”
A few months ago, the thought of losing Browning during this season — or him leaving for the NFL after his junior year — might set off the UW faithful in a full panic attack.
From what Carta-Samuels has shown the past few weeks, it shouldn’t.
“For sure, the (game) is slowing down,” Carta-Samuels said. “The reads are much easier. ... That is a feeling you can’t really get or force. That kind of just comes with time.”
The Huskies added to their 2019 recruiting class by receiving an oral commitment from offensive tackle Nathaniel Kalepo on Friday. The 6-foot-6, 290-pound junior from Rainier Beach chose the UW over Oregon and UCLA. ... The Huskies will hold a closed-door scrimmage Saturday before taking Sunday off. They will have two off days next week as well.