UW’s true freshman receivers making an impact
Darrell Daniels, a 6-foot-4, 232-pounder, was one of seven true freshmen to play in the No. 19 Huskies’ season-opening victory over Boise State. He makes up one-third of a touted group of new receivers that coach Steve Sarkisian wants to see much more of this season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
UW vs. Illinois, at Chicago, 3 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Fifteen minutes after practice ended Wednesday morning, Washington receiver Darrell Daniels was one of the last players remaining on the Husky Stadium field.
Standing near the sideline, Daniels caught a couple dozen sharp passes from a UW staffer. Each time, he watched the ball carefully into his hands while tiptoeing the sideline.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian stood close by, watching Daniels and offering small talk. Sooner or later, Sarkisian expects the extra work on Wednesdays to translate into a greater workload for Daniels on Saturdays.
The 6-foot-4, 232-pound Daniels was one of seven true freshmen to play in the No. 19 Huskies’ season-opening victory over Boise State, and he makes up one-third of a touted group of new receivers Sarkisian wants to see much more of this season.
The lightning-fast John Ross had four catches and two kickoff returns against Boise State. Damore’ea Stringfellow, Kasen Williams’ heir apparent as UW’s archetype No. 1 receiver, had one catch in a reserve role, while Daniels — a raw-but-physical talent — made his debut on special teams.
“Those guys are amazing,” sophomore receiver Jaydon Mickens said. “They’re always ready to work, they’re always wanting to learn new things.”
Mickens said he’s doing what he can to help bring the freshman receivers up to speed.
Ross’ speed and elusiveness were apparent on his 33-yard kickoff return against Boise State, when he zigzagged around one would-be tackler and nearly sprang free for a much longer return. He also had one fair catch on a punt return.
Daniels, meanwhile, has been working primarily on the kickoff-coverage unit.
“You’ll see Darrell a lot more on special teams,” Sarkisian said. “I think you’ll see more of Stringfellow offensively. Although he played quite a bit, he didn’t get many chances. I’d like to get him a few more chances. And I love what Ross brought to the table. Hopefully we can get him a couple more returns.”
Mickens a big surprise
Mickens had an up-and-down 2012 season as a true freshman, but he emerged as perhaps the biggest surprise from UW’s 38-6 rout of Boise State. The slot receiver had career highs of nine catches for 109 yards while looking like the perfect fit in the Huskies’ new no-huddle attack.
“My confidence right now is through the roof,” said Mickens, who had 20 catches for 190 yards and one touchdown last season. “I knew what I was capable of last year, but it wasn’t the year I wanted to have. But I’ve come in more focused, and hopefully I have a bigger game as the weeks go on.”
Seferian-Jenkins catching up
Preseason All-American tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said he wasn’t nearly as winded Wednesday as he was nine days earlier when he returned to work with the first-team offense.
“It’s pretty close to where I want it to be,” he said of his conditioning.
Seferian-Jenkins, suspended for the opener against Boise State, said he felt like the offense was moving “three or four times” faster last week than before he broke his pinkie Aug. 12.
“When I first got back,” he added, “I was like ‘Whoa, this is going really, really fast.’ The first day I couldn’t really hang with it.”
Sarkisian said this week that Seferian-Jenkins will have a significant role against Illinois (2-0) in Chicago on Saturday, and Seferian-Jenkins reiterated that his pinkie injury is a nonissue.
• Mickens said the Huskies will wear white helmets against Illinois. “It’s going to look sweet,” he said. “We’ve just got to play sweet.”
• OL Erik Kohler was in full pads Wednesday and out of the boot he’d been wearing over his broken foot for at least the past month.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org