A receiving corps for the ages

There was a minute left in the first quarter, and Washington was driving. The Cougars still seemed stunned from the brick wall named Ben Mahdavi that they had just run into at the Husky goal line. On this current drive, WR Reggie Williams had exploited the man-on-man coverage on three occasions already.

Now, he was stationed off to the right, with stud Marcus Trufant positioned just two yards in front of him, and ready to deny him the ball.

What occurred next defined the best that 2001 offered Husky fans. It also featured what the future has massively in store. Amid the sun-splashed field, Pickett barked out signals and took the snap. Dropping back to pass, he looked right and pump-faked; then at once lobbed a missile toward the front corner of the goal line. Trufant was stride for stride with Williams, and in mere moments, they and the leather ball would converge into one point in space. In textbook fashion, the Cougar DB was in position and began to leap in anticipation.

There was only one problem. In a breathtaking moment of athletic splendor, Williams made like a contortionist with wings. In mid-air he seemed almost amorphous, somehow gaining inside position, and then wrangling the ball free from Trufant and landing upon his shoulder at the 1-yard line. He leapt up in happiness and was greeted by Patrick Reddick, who had raced over to congratulate him. The Husky Stadium crowd showered the effort with roars of applause.

One play later, Alexis scored, and the Huskies never looked back.

Having a player of Williams' enormous talent and impact is certainly a once-in-a-generation thing. My generation will speak of him the way older folks speak of Hugh McElhenny. That by itself would be fine and dandy, and something to appreciate. However, this Washington receiving corps is loaded with much more than Reggie Williams.

I wrote in August 2001 that I thought Paul Arnold could win the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year Award. While he had a fine year, he certainly wasn't in the running as a finalist.

But the wine has now aged so allow me please to revisit that assertion. Arnold is blazing fast, has experience at receiver now, and his tremendous work ethic is due to pay off. Of all the talk of the athletic abilities of the other receivers, Arnold is overlooked. If it is the 4th quarter and Arnold already has nine catches for 200+ yards, opponents still cannot let up on their focus of Reggie Williams. Now that is lethal as well exciting.

Is it time to factor in Florida product Charles Frederick yet? ET himself has been wowing the coaches and during recent practices, with his own renditions of ballet in cleats. He is a speedy guy and has had a year to acclimate to the living conditions and pace of the Northwest. If Williams stays healthy, Frederick will never face double coverage this season and will have opportunities to roam free after the catch. You can bet that Keith Gilbertson will have plays to isolate him whenever possible. The open range of the gridiron can be Frederick's canvas. With his quick feet and ability to jitterbug, sidestep and improvise, he can paint highlight film masterpieces with all the splendor of Picasso.

Style-wise, Justin Robbins is the Paul Skansi of this group. Wilbur Hooks is the Fred Coleman. Patrick Reddick reminds me of a poor man's Mario Bailey (and I mean that as a high compliment). Reddick, incidentally, lead all UW receivers last year with a robust 19.4 yards-per-catch average.

What a group! What an utter nightmare to defend if you are an opposing Defensive Coordinator.

In addition, there are also two things that I can't help but consider when reveling in what's available. Can you imagine the lethal potency of this roster if Jerramy Stevens was there, lining up at Tight End?

In some ways, I think it is best that he is gone now. From a selfish standpoint however, what an implacable force the Washington offense would be! How can you risk loading up to stop Stevens at the line of scrimmage, when deployed at each snap are several lethal streaks of purple lightning, zipping and darting all over the field of play? Lightning streaks by the name of Williams, Arnold, Frederick, Robbins, Hooks and Reddick.

Secondly, I believe in all sincerity that Brock Huard would have been a First-Team All Pac-10 selection, and a First-round draft choice, had he been outfitted with this fine selection of wide outs. It is an interesting aside, and an oft-overlooked fact of life, that our supporting casts often have a tremendous amount to do with our successes and failures.

In any event, Washington will be able to move the ball. I am convinced that the defense will be stout and create more big plays than we have seen since 1997 and the days of Tony Parrish. The special teams will be as solid as an oak armoire. The only lingering concern is; can the Huskies run the ball between the tackles?

If the answer to this question proves to be an emphatic "yes," then an amazing and legendary season is close at hand.

Led by a receiving corps for the ages.
Derek Johnson can be reached at djohnson@Dawgman.com

SHAMELESS PLUG: In the mood for a fun Husky parody? Click Here: http://www@4malamute.com/dawgfather.html

Dawgman.com Top Stories