Admittedly, UW receiver Jaydon Mickens — who has never been shy about speaking up — has been doing more talking this year than ever before. Many of his conversations these days are with the three players vying for the quarterback job.
Something needed to be said.
During a sloppy six-turnover practice Monday afternoon, Washington’s offense was being manhandled by its defensive teammates, who hooted and hollered while dancing with youthful exuberance.
On the other side of the field next to Husky Stadium, Jaydon Mickens stomped and fumed along the sideline.
“We’re not about to be mediocre,” the senior receiver yelled. “Pick it up! Everybody! Now!”
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Strong words. Good message. But ultimately, it wasn’t enough to save the UW offense from its worst performance of fall camp.
Admittedly, Mickens — who has never been shy about speaking up — has been doing more talking this year than ever before. Many of his conversations these days are with the three players vying for the quarterback job.
“I talk to them all the time,” he said.
It’s a major role reversal for Mickens, a two-year starter, who began at Washington when former Husky quarterback standout Keith Price finished a record-breaking career.
“It’s awesome and it’s weird because Keith used to come to me and say you got to go another step,” Mickens said. “Or you got to beat the under coverage. Or you got to take this route high rather than low because you’re going to throw me off.
“I was like ‘this is so hard.’ Then I finally got it. Now I’m running away with it and it’s like second nature. … To give (UW’s quarterbacks) that knowledge and see them go off with it and see them being productive with it makes me happy.”
“I’ve seen a little bit of consistency, but it needs to be more consistent,” Mickens said. “It’s not where we need it to be to take this team to a national-championship level right now.
“But, I can see them getting there.”
UW coach Chris Petersen made a similar comment when asked what he envisions from Mickens, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound slot receiver, who led the Huskies in receptions (60), receiving yards (617) and touchdown receptions (four) last season.
“I expect him to be one of the most explosive players in the Pac-12,” Petersen said. “I really do. I think he’s a really, really good player.
“If he takes his game to the next level and we can get him the ball, he’s going to do some exciting things with it.”
The Huskies, who return four offensive starters, are hoping Mickens can carry a lackluster passing attack that ranked 11th in the Pac-12 last season.
Mickens sees star potential in sophomore receivers Dante Pettis and Brayden Lenius and in senior tight end Joshua Perkins.
Still, they combined for just 49 catches last season and Washington is without speedy flanker John Ross III, who is redshirting this season due to a knee injury.
“Being a playmaker is a big responsibility,” Mickens said. “You got to set the tone. We want to set the tone early and often.”
The 21-year-old Mickens is poised to finish his career as one of the most prolific receivers in Husky history, which is a significant achievement considering he’s had four quarterbacks (Price, Lindquist, Cyler Miles and Troy Williams) during his career.
He enters the season with 145 catches and needs 36 to move into second place on UW’s all-time list behind Reggie Williams, who has 243.
“It’s tremendous to know that you’re actually competing against the past and guys like Reggie Williams, Kasen Williams, Jerome Pathon and Mario Bailey,” Mickens said.
“It’s great to be in a category with those guys.”
Mickens could lead the team in receptions three straight years; however, his NFL future is still unclear.
“I would really like to see some explosive plays that he makes on his own and that aren’t generated by scheme or play calls,” said CBSsports.com draft analyst Rob Rang, who projects Mickens as a fifth-round pick in 2016.
“You want to see him running away from defensive backs or doing it as a return man rather than just slip screens that are created to get him in space.”
When told of the critique, Mickens agreed.
“I haven’t gotten lot of jump balls and things like that,” he said. “That’s not my fault.
“ If the quarterback puts it in the air, I’m going to go get it.”
Which leads us back to his budding relationship with Washington’s three quarterbacks.
“It takes time and it takes repetition,” Mickens said. “It’s not hard.
“Once we get those reps in, it doesn’t matter if a quarterback steps in for just one week. We should be on the same page.”
|Climbing the charts|
|Jaydon Mickens is sixth on UW’s all-time receptions list.|