They were roommates as freshmen in the University of Washington dorms and they remain friendly, yet intense, rivals on the field now.
Receiver Kasen Williams and cornerback Marcus Peters line up opposite each other on nearly every play in Washington practices. And after nearly every play, they jog together to the sideline or back to the line of scrimmage, offering a critique of the other’s route or coverage technique.
“We do that every play, every series,” Peters said. “We just want each other to be great. I expect great things out of Kasen, and he expects great things out of me.”
It’s a unique bond at positions where big personalities and big egos often clash. Not so for Williams and Peters.
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“We’re here to help each other,” said Williams, a junior who led UW with 77 catches for 878 yards and six touchdowns in 2012. “I know for a fact that he’s going to see other receivers in the Pac-12 like me this year, and I’m going to see other long, lanky corners like him.
“So for us to be able to communicate with each other, as far as, ‘This is what you just did that I keyed on,’ and ‘This is what I did that helped me get past you,’ that’s real important for both of us. It creates a competitive nature between us and everybody plays better when there’s good competition.”
Make no mistake: There is some good-natured trash talking when either one-ups the other.
Peters, a 5-foot-11, 194-pound redshirt sophomore, said he wants to bring a physical element to the field not always associated with the position. What he does bring is a cool, not-so-quiet confidence that is often associated with top cornerbacks (see Sherman, Richard).
“I just bring a different little attitude toward the game,” said Peters, who started the final eight games of last season and finished tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
Williams has one consistent critique of Peters, saying the cornerback has a tendency to gamble at times — either anticipating or “jumping” routes too early.
“It’s good that I go against him because sometimes he gets impatient and that’s when I know I can get him,” Williams said. “He’s working on it, and the more he goes against me the more he’s going to start developing how to be more patient. With a lot of receivers in the Pac-12, he’s going to see speed and he’s going to see guys who are patient at the line.”
Peters’ gambles occasionally surfaced on Saturdays last season and would hurt him when the receiver would pull off a double move, UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said.
“When he plays disciplined, he can be a real good player,” Wilcox said. “Because he’s got good length, good quickness, good instincts, ball skills. But when he gambles, it just takes all that out of it.”
Deontae Cooper’s long road to recovery appears to be nearing an end.
After three major knee injuries — two anterior cruciate tears in his left knee and one in his right — the junior tailback is expected to play in UW’s season opener against Boise State on Aug. 31, coach Steve Sarkisian said Tuesday.
Tailback Jesse Callier, also recovering from a torn ACL, is expected to play, too.
“They sure look (100 percent healthy) to me,” Sarkisian said.
Senior kicker Travis Coons, who handled all of UW’s kicking and punting duties last season, is starting to again solidify himself as the starting kicker.
“He hasn’t missed (a field goal) in two days,” Sarkisian said. “He hit from 53 or 54 (yards) today easily.”
Coons is competing with freshman Cameron Van Winkle, who will apparently take over as the kickoff specialist.