Player Spotlight - Cody Bruns

SEATTLE - Washington fans want to forget 2008, and it wasn't that great for Cody Bruns either. He was pressed into action after believing he was going to redshirt his freshman year, only to finish the year with three catches. But 2008 has nothing on 2011. That's a year Bruns never wants to re-live.

July 11th is when his father Buck passed away at the age of 60. A huge presence in Cody's life, Buck's passing leveled his son to the point where it was in his best interests to utilize that redshirt season that had been burned three years earlier.

With one year left to fulfill the promise he brought with him to Washington from Columbia Valley powerhouse Prosser, Bruns is focused like never before, pushed on and grateful for one last moment in the sun.

Numbers Never Lie - As Kellen Moore's main target for the Mustangs, Bruns set national receiving records; to put his UW career in perspective he had more catches and yards in his 12th grade game against Ephrata (11/185) than he has his entire Husky career. In fact he's had more punt returns (16) than catches (10) at UW. But he's poised for a breakthrough in 2012, even if it's come three years later than expected.

Last of the Mohicans - Bruns is just one of five current Huskies still around from the winless 2008 debacle (Johri Fogerson, Justin Glenn, Anthony Gobern, Adam Long and Drew Schaefer are the others), and Bruns was the only one that played four years ago. That puts him in a special category, one that puts a smile on his face nonetheless. He made it through to the other side, including back-to-back bowl games, and has lived to talk about it. "I didn't think it would down-spiral like that, but it is what it is," he said Monday. "That was a bad year obviously and things took off for the worst, but that's what made me who I am today and you can't change any of that."

Mr. Indispensable - Over the course of his Washington career, Bruns has caught passes, run the ball, passed the ball, returned punts, and been a holder on extra points and field goals. He's also been a game captain and did some scout team quarterback last year. In short, he's done it all - and will be counted on to probably do all those things in some capacity in 2012. "I've been in this system now for four years," he said. "It's nice because I know every position. I feel like I can get in there and contribute in any way possible. The ankle is definitely slowing me up, but that's spring ball, getting old, things happen."

Scouting Report - From the slot, Bruns offers a lot to the position - namely quicks off the snap, great route running to create separation, and sure hands. An ankle injury is slowing him down right now, but come fall he'll be 100 percent. Because he's less than six feet tall and 180 pounds, no defense is going to go lock-down on him when playmakers like Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kasen Williams and James Johnson are lurking - and that's to their peril. He ripped off a 50-plus yard reception down a seam Monday when backup QB Derrick Brown was able to find Bruns galloping free down the deep third. Bruns has a chance to be extremely productive in 2012 just because defenses are going to be doing everything they can to slow down the three-headed monster of ASJ, Williams and Johnson. Because returning starter Keith Price is doing everything he can to bump up his already impressive accuracy statistics, expect him to rely on a slot receiver like Bruns who can move the chains and find seams in defenses for quick gains with little fuss.

Things to work on - Obviously Bruns has the capability to be a game-changing receiver. He set all sorts of records in high school to prove that fact; now it's up to him to get that confidence and mentality back to where he feels like he can be Price's go-to guy in any situation, on any down. He'll be in good company, as Seferian-Jenkins and Williams will also be looking for that same kind of attention, but as Price and Bruns work more with each other in the spring and fall camp - the more they will build the kind of chemistry needed to create trust. And that's all that's really missing from Bruns' game right now - trust. Trust from his quarterback that he can be that first down-making machine Steve Sarkisian needs, and trust from himself that he still has what it takes to be the same production hound he was for Prosser. To quote John Lee Hooker, let Bruns boogie-woogie. It's in him, and it's got to come out.

Competition - Sarkisian recruited the slot position with intent for 2012, signing smaller but lightning quick receivers in Jaydon Mickens and Kendyl Taylor. Add in grayshirt Marvin Hall and other roster players like Kevin Smith and William Chandler and the slot position went from a position of need last year to a bounty this coming fall. Bruns is right at the head of the line, but with a ton of new kids coming in wanting to impress right away he's going to have his hands full. Smith would appear to be the odds-on challenger, as he caught 15 passes for over 200 yards in 2011 (as well as tallying 958 kick return yards, the second-most ever in a single season at Washington) - but his return is dependent on how quickly he recovers from a knee injury suffered the week of the Alamo Bowl.

Quotable - "I didn't think (2011) would down-spiral like that, but it is what it is. That was a bad year obviously and things took off for the worst, but that's what made me who I am today and you can't change any of that." - Cody Bruns.

"I can only imagine losing your father right before the season begins and what that meant to him and his mother being home and all that, so I was prepared for it, I analyzed it and in talking to Cody as we went through the discussions of it, he was pretty accepting of it. If he would have said, 'heck no coach, I want to play' sure I would have let him play and all that. But when a kid says 'coach that might be a pretty good idea, let me think about it' and comes in the next day and agrees with you, then right then that tells me it's probably pretty difficult on him right now, so it was a pretty easy decision.'' - Steve Sarkisian, on Bruns' decision to redshirt last season. Top Stories