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Originally published August 8, 2012 at 9:36 PM | Page modified August 8, 2012 at 10:03 PM

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Huskies receiver Williams ready to step up his game

Washington sophomore receiver Kasen Williams said last season he learned the virtues of the work that has to be done on nongame days.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Former NBA star Allen Iverson may have once memorably discounted the value of practice.

But Washington sophomore receiver Kasen Williams said last season he learned the virtues of the work that has to be done on nongame days.

And as his second year at UW began this week with the opening of training camp, Williams said he's trying to treat every day as seriously as a fall Saturday.

"I want to take that next step on this team," said Williams, the Skyline High grad who will be counted on this season to fill the receiving void left by the graduation of Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar. "That's the one thing I've got to establish now. A lot of people say that when you go hard in practice, it makes the games a lot easier, and that's my goal — to go hard in practice, because there were a lot of practices last year where I left practice and it was like, 'I don't think I felt myself work hard.' This year, it's definitely working hard every single practice just to make the game that much easier."

The new approach to practice includes forgetting bad plays the minute they happen — something he also said he struggled with last season when he made the always challenging transition from high-school superstar to first-year major-college player.

"One bad play from me last year and I would take myself out of all of practice (mentally)," he said. "Now, it's first off limiting those bad plays, and when those bad plays do happen, it's in and out of my head and I can get back and continue on with the rest of practice."

Through three days, UW coach Steve Sarkisian said he's seeing a difference in Williams, who had what by any account was a solid freshman season with 36 receptions for 427 yards and six touchdowns, even if not quite what he expected from himself.

"I thought Kasen has had a very, very consistent camp and is playing at a high level and really has embraced the opportunity that he sees is out there for himself," Sarkisian said. "And this started in the offseason and there were some growing pains a little bit in spring ball to understand that. You don't just get anointed as the top receiver — you earn it. And he is working his tail off to try to make that happen and he is making his plays. So I'm really impressed with what he is bringing. He's got a very professional attitude about it."

The difference in Williams is also physical.

After playing at about 200 pounds last season, he spent the offseason working on getting bigger and stronger, and says he's now at about 218. It helped that for the first time in his life, he concentrated on just one sport.

"Every single day was dedicated to football this year, and every day was in the weight room," he said.

Washington has not yet put on full pads — that will come Friday — so Williams said he still has some curiosity on how his new weight will feel in full contact. But he's optimistic.

"I think I still move the same," he said. "When the pads come on, that's going to tell a whole lot. ... We'll see how much farther the defenders go back when I push them."

He's equally optimistic about this season and his role in UW's offense.

"I want to prove something this year," he said. "Last year I wanted to prove something but I also had so much on my mind with the plays and impressing the coaches and I'm in college finally and all this kind of stuff, and it was hard to grasp it all," he said. "But now I'm just calmed down and this is what I'm doing and this is why I'm here and I've got to show up.

"(Stepping up for Kearse and Aguilar) is an opportunity, and the coaches want to move me around and play all these sorts of positions, and with James Johnson being back, we have a lot of weapons this year — maybe even more than last year, in reality. Filling those spots we lost last year I don't think will be too challenging."


• Sarkisian said OL Erik Kohler, who suffered a dislocated knee cap, should be back in two weeks.

• Former UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt is working with the football staff at Arkansas.

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