All Hands on Deck: Adams Wants UW Receivers to Step It Up
For a couple of seasons, Washington wide receivers have been adequate but not much more while running their routes and hauling in passes from high-profile quarterbacks Jake Browning and Jacob Eason.
Now with an unproven signal caller certain to guide the Huskies, whenever the pandemic permits, these pass-catchers will have to carry more of the load and take the pressure off him.
UW wide receivers coach Junior Adams wants his guys, as a group, to take the next step. He laid out three areas of improvement.
"That's competing for the football and that's consistently beating man-to-man coverage," Adams said in a conference call on Thursday with reporters. "I think we can do a better job when we get the ball in our hands and run after the catch. Those things stand out to me."
Adams has two 2019 starters returning, a 2018 starter who's healthy again and a pair of high-profile recruits joining the program, plus a host of others who provide depth.
Junior Terrell Bynum and sophomore Puka Nacua worked their way into the lineup last season and each caught a pair of touchdown passes.
Bynum ended up starting eight games and pulling in 31 passes for 368 yards.
"Terrell had opportunities and in money-down situations, which is third down and fourth down, he made plays for us," Adams said.
Nacua, shown catching balls prior to the Las Vegas Bowl in the video, was a three-game starter before breaking a foot in practice, still enough to provide an extended sample of what he can do.
"The first thing we saw when we first saw Puka is he competes for the football," Adams said. "Some guys say these are 50-50 grabs. He's a moment-of-truth guy. If the ball's in the air, there's a good chance he's going to come down with it."
The Huskies will welcome highly regarded freshmen Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze, who had a combined 381 receptions in their high school careers and should play right away.
"What jumps off when you turn on the tape and watch Jalen is obviously his speed," Adams said. "He's able to run. There's not a route he can't run. He's an elite pass-catcher."
Odunze brings a bigger body than most, at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, but no less elusiveness.
"In and out of breaks, changing directions, he's pretty elite in that area," the coach said.
The Huskies also should have a healthy Ty Jones back. The junior made four limited appearances last season while dealing with injuries. In 2018, he caught 31 passes for 491 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Among other candidates, senior Jordan Chin is good at picking his spots. He caught 3 passes in 2019 and took two of them for touchdowns. He's started five games in his UW career. Sophomores Marquis Spiker and Austin Osborne join the mix, as well.
"It's who's going to make plays on a consistent basis," Adams said. "It's who's in the right place at the right time."