Williams hopes to build on family name

When Aaron and Kasen Williams hugged - the culmination of Kasen's act of 'committing' to Washington Friday night - it was a hug that was four years in the making. It wasn't your average father-son hug. The relief and joy was evident from both: The recruiting process for the younger Williams - named the fourth-best receiver in the country by Scout.com - was over.

Gone was the role Aaron and Rhonda had to play for the better part of 48 months; that of facilitators, travel agents and information gatherers. Kasen's mother and father were active in the recruiting process throughout, their actions as reserved Friday as they had been since the beginning, since Kasen's catches against O'Dea helped Skyline win a state championship in 2007. Wherever Kasen needed to be in order to do his due diligence in the process, the family obliged. If that meant unofficial visits to places like Gainesville, Fla. or South Bend, Ind. or Baton Rouge, La., that's what they did. And they did it without reservation, secure in the understanding that whatever college decision Kasen would eventually make, it wasn't going to be done without a lot of effort, soul-searching and frequent-flyer miles.

But when it came time to make the decision on Friday, we got to see the other side of the family. To a Washington fan, watching Aaron Williams unzip his jacket, only to reveal the No. 2 jersey he wore at Washington back in the late 70's, must've been like seeing Clark Kent emerge from a phone booth as Superman. That number two might has well been a giant S, because it revealed for all what they had long suspected: Kasen was going to stay home and follow in his father's footsteps.

"I wanted this to be something that wasn't so serious," the younger Williams would say afterward. "It's a barbecue…all the kids are just running around, having fun. And I wanted this to be something else they could be happy about."

And when that news reached the Twitterverse, Husky Nation responded in kind with a barrage of well wishes and congratulations. It was a homecoming, of sorts - for Aaron Williams. Events had come full-circle.

"This has been a long, long process," Williams said Friday night after the deed had been done, complete with a smile of a man happy to be able to finally 'let his hair down'. For the longest time, Aaron wasn't sure if Kasen wanted to fulfill his legacy at Washington. Kasen's older sister Kiara, who currently plays soccer at Arizona State, was in Kasen's ear all the time about how good it was for her to leave home and have her own experience. And Aaron thought the weather at a school like Cal might be enticing.

As a father, he knew his son couldn't go wrong with whatever choice he made. But as a man, Aaron Williams was bracing for the worst. He thought for a long time that his unfinished business at Washington would remain that - unfinished business.

'Unfinished Business'. That's what he called it.

For a four-year letterwinner at Washington who had 81 career receptions for 1371 yards, Williams left Montlake with reservations about his career. He joined up with Paul Skansi to be the first UW receiving duo ever to have more than 100 yards in the same game - against USC in 1979. He is still in the UW record books as being top-10 all-time in receiving touchdowns and yards per catch. In short, Williams did a lot - certainly a lot more than many other blue-chippers that fail to deliver on the promise of greatness.

But to hear Aaron talk about it, he didn't do near enough. He was one of those players that visited Don James' office a lot, and it wasn't to catch up on the funny papers. "I was at practice and I went to class, but I didn't work hard at it," he said. Everything always came naturally to me.

"When I was at the U, I had a lot of athletic ability, but I did not take care of business while I was there. I didn't put enough effort into it."

And it would have been easy for Kasen to take Kiara's advice and blaze his own trail. But Kasen has some unfinished business of his own. Ever since he was a first-grader, he's been competing with his father - usually on the basketball court, but it eventually gravitated toward the football field and the track.

According to Aaron, he told Kasen after his sophomore season that he wouldn't be able to take him anymore. But curiously enough, Kasen never took him up on the driveway offer to prove him wrong. "I stopped playing," Aaron said with a smile. "I got smart. I quit while I was ahead. I stayed on top."

His track marks have also stayed on top - especially the 50-01/2 triple jump - a mark Kasen will have a hard time reaching. Kasen won the state 4A triple jump title in 2009, but his jump was 47-06. It was over a half-foot better than the next competitor, but Kasen wasn't competing against them.

"I haven't gotten there yet - but another way of being competitive is to go to the U-Dub and trying to be a bigger legend or bigger star than he was," Kasen said, matter-of-factly. He not only wants to openly acknowledge his father's legacy, but he wants to embrace it, build on it and make it as big as possible. "I want there to be a list of legends, and both me and my Dad are on it," he added.

Unfinished business indeed. And Aaron believes Kasen will fulfill all the promise he had when he enrolled at Washington back in 1979, a freshman from Wilson High in Tacoma that had no idea that in 2010 his son would be picking up where he left off. And doing it even better than he did.

"He likes working out. He likes being involved," Aaron said, adding that the extra work the Huskies strength and conditioning staff will impose on Kasen will only help him reach those goals.

"I definitely want to be that person to fill in his shoes and finish what he started," Kasen said, showing nothing but love and respect for his father. And when the two hugged it out on Friday - the son wearing Aaron's No. 2 purple jersey - the pact was officially sealed. "It kind of was like the feeling of a hand-me-down," Kasen said of his Dad's jersey. If the school can swing it, they are going to bring the number back out of retirement, and Kasen wants to wear it in honor of his father and what he did at UW.

And in turn, the embrace guaranteed his father a few more seasons in the sun, or maybe liquid sunshine, partaking in his favorite pastime.

"I get to continue doing what I've been doing, which is watching my son get better," Aaron said. "Hopefully."

The father has given his son the jersey, the legacy, the standard. Now it's up to the son to do the rest, to take it to its proper place. And to hear Aaron talk about it, it's the safest bet he could ever make.

Kasen Williams Scout.com profile

Dawgman.com Top Stories