It took 1,130 games. But as far as anyone knows, when Jermaine and Jamaal Kearse each scored touchdowns against Utah on Oct. 8, it marked the...
It took 1,130 games. But as far as anyone knows, when Jermaine and Jamaal Kearse each scored touchdowns against Utah on Oct. 8, it marked the first time in University of Washington football history that two brothers scored in the same game.
It was a true family affair, with mother Angelika watching in the seats of Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“She said she was screaming in the stands, and I believe her, too,” said Jamaal with a smile. “I know she was going crazy.”
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And father David Kearse?
Jamaal believes he was there, too.
David Kearse, then 46, died suddenly in 2007, a day after feeling lightheaded, while his sons were still attending Lakes High School. That he was a big Husky fan helped lead each to eventually sign with Washington.
“Every time I’m on the field, I’m thinking that he’s watching me and I need to come out and make him proud,” said Jamaal Kearse. “I know he was proud up there.”
That Jermaine Kearse scored against Utah was no big surprise. A senior receiver, he now has 27 career touchdown receptions to stand second on UW’s all-time list behind Mario Bailey, who had 30 from 1988 to 1991.
Jermaine scored in the game in typical fashion, catching a 23-yard touchdown pass from Keith Price.
Jamaal Kearse, meanwhile, scored more unconventionally as the redshirt freshman linebacker recovered a fumbled kickoff on the first play of the game and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown to jump-start Washington’s eventual 31-14 win over the Utes.
While even Jamaal Kearse admitted later the play wasn’t too complicated, a matter of just “scooping and scoring,” it typified what has been a seeming knack for being around the ball as he’s gotten increased playing time the past few weeks.
Jamaal Kearse began the season primarily on special teams but has played substantially at strongside linebacker in the past two games after a neck injury to John Timu against Cal.
Kearse figured in two plays in UW’s goal-line stand that clinched the win against Cal, with blanket coverage on one failed pass attempt and helping make the tackle on a run. He had four more tackles against Utah, along with the fumble recovery, impressing coaches enough that he figures to rotate, if not start, even now that Timu is apparently back to full health.
“His future is very, very bright at that position,” said UW coach Steve Sarkisian.
Even if there were a few rough moments a year ago during Jamaal Kearse’s true-freshman season. Unlike his older brother, who was recruited as a receiver and immediately earned playing time at that spot, Jamaal Kearse had to make the move from the safety position he played at Lakes to linebacker once he arrived at UW, and ended up sitting out the year as a redshirt.
“At first it started off hard, I’m not going to lie,” Jamaal Kearse said. “You’ve got to think a lot quicker as a linebacker because you are making decisions where you’ve got to go and what the play is within the first two seconds of the ball being snapped.”
Said Sarkisian: “To play linebacker, you’ve got to be willing to put your face on people and be willing to take on linemen and fullbacks and tight ends. I don’t know if we saw that early on from Jamaal. Again, this is a new position to him. We’re talking about a kid in high school that was playing receiver and safety.
“He gets here, and for the first year of this, trying to find his way through, I think he just started to figure it out and what it meant and how to play physical and still use his athleticism, and he’s been doing that.”
Jamaal said he began to feel more comfortable as the season wore on. And older brother Jermaine was there as a sounding board on the tough days. The two live in the same apartment building, Jermaine a floor above.
“He’s definitely my mentor,” said Jamaal Kearse. “I definitely look up to him. He tells me something, I listen to him. I know he’s always watching out for me.”
Says Sarkisian: “Jermaine is a tough older brother. He doesn’t coddle him and hasn’t coddled him since day one.”
Proof, though, that the younger brother was beginning to catch on came one day this fall when Sarkisian said the two were matched up in a drill — Jermaine attempting to block Jamaal on a punt return — one in which the coaches were keeping score on each side.
“Jamaal beat him, so younger brother got a little leg up on him there,” Sarkisian said.
At Utah, however, they were on the same side, able to share a little bit of Husky history.
“We jumped around about it and laughed about it and celebrated it, which was nice,” he said.
David Kearse, he felt, was celebrating somewhere, too.
“I know he would have loved it,” Jamaal said.
• Receiver Kasen Williams, trying to shake off high ankle sprain suffered against Utah, was in pads and practiced some on Tuesday. Sarkisian said Monday Williams would be monitored during the week to determine his availability Saturday against Colorado.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org