Skyline star Kasen Williams will play football for the Washington Huskies.
SAMMAMISH — Kasen Williams sat in a blue chair, right hand hovering over five hats on a folding table.
He dangled the hand over the Washington hat. He let it linger on the Louisiana State hat. He waved it over the Florida hat. Then, he surprised everyone.
“Dad, can you help me out?”
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As Williams, Skyline High School’s 6-foot-3, 200-pound wide receiver, waved his arms to excite the crowd, his father, Aaron, stepped forward.
He unzipped a green and white Spartans jacket and revealed the same No. 2 jersey he wore at Washington. At that moment, with about 1,000 players, parents, coaches and friends cheering, it became clear Kasen Williams would follow in his father’s footsteps and play for the Huskies.
“I thought it would be a good idea, have him cover it up and then take it off and I could put it on,” said Williams, who caught 74 passes for 1,209 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. “It’s kind of like following in his footsteps and it’s kind of like a transition from Skyline to the UW.”
Williams knew his father had his old jerseys and he thought incorporating them into his announcement would be a new twist on the trend of players picking hats.
He never expected the reaction the move received.
“I wasn’t expecting them to get that crazy,” said Williams, rated the top prep receiver in the country by CBS College Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “I knew what a lot of people were expecting and I saw a lot of the kids come down and put up the dubs and everything.”
When asked what he thought of Aaron’s old-school jersey, Williams said with a laugh, “It’s kind of cool. I could see myself rocking this in a throwback game or something.”
After narrowing his finalists to five schools recently, Williams picked the Huskies over California, Notre Dame, Florida and Louisiana State. He hopes to wear the No. 2 in college as a tribute to his father. The number is currently retired in honor of Chuck Carroll.
The Huskies have now landed two of their top three recruiting targets, also getting a commitment from Gig Harbor tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins on Aug. 16. Quarterback Brett Hundley from Chandler, Ariz., will take an unofficial visit to UW this weekend.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian can’t comment directly about recruits, but he did tell 950 KJR, “We vowed to put a fence around the state of Washington” and “it’s pretty evident we are doing that.”
While Williams matured throughout high school, he was able to watch former teammates Gino Simone (Washington State), Jake Heaps (BYU) and his sister, Kiara, who plays soccer at Arizona State. Their experiences helped him through the recruiting process.
“I think they (the Williams family) just did it perfectly,” Skyline coach Mat Taylor said. “His family exposed him to as many options as they could. He was exposed to 10-12 different universities. I know it’s the right decision for him.”
When asked to describe the recruiting process, Aaron Williams used the word painful.
“I was listening (to pitches from universities) and getting mad, because it sounded good,” Aaron said with a laugh. “If I was going through this, I could see myself going here or going there. That’s the part that was painful, because a lot of those schools sounded really good.
“If I was a kid in this situation I would seriously look at going.”
But in the end, Williams chose to stay home.
“Beautiful,” said Aaron, who played at Washington from 1979 to 1982. “To keep him close to home, be able to go and watch practice, is going to be awesome. Having a son follow in your footsteps playing football is fantastic, and now that he’s going to the same school, it’s just incredible.”
Now Kasen Williams is preparing to live up to the legacy, a challenge he’s excited to begin.
“He did something amazing at the U-Dub, and what I want to do is match that,” Williams said. “I want people to look back and say Kasen was just as good as his dad, if not better.”
Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org