Sept. 6, 2008
By Travis Sherer
The Husky class of 2013 is getting as much experience as it can handle this season - with rave reviews.
In a 28-27 loss to Brigham Young University, a number of UW freshmen showed that they are ready to handle the spotlight of Division 1 football.
"Our freshmen are getting better. You know we had to rely on a freshman tight end, a freshman blocker," said UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano. "(Jermaine) Kearse came in and caught a nice touchdown and (David) Freeman had some good runs for us. So those guys got to get better every week and you know that we're playing all of these games and they're getting great experience and they are going to get better. Overall, I was really proud of those kids. They made some nice plays today."
Among those underclassmen making a difference were tight end Kavario Middleton and Kearse, both of whom are products of Lakewood High School.
"We've gained a lot of confidence," Middleton said. "I don't care who it is -- No. 1, No. 4 - we feel like we can play with the best out there, and we showed that today."
Middleton had four receptions for 30 yards, including a drive-saving nine-yard catch on third down in the first quarter. The Huskies scored their first touchdown of the game four plays later.
Kearse, like many other UW freshmen, said after the game that playing in Husky Stadium helped build confidence.
"It felt good to play at home with the whole crowd and support system behind you," he said. "It was a good feeling to know that, out of all the things that happened out there, your fans are out there behind you - having your back."
Kearse gave the fans something to cheer for in the second quarter, leaping over a BYU defender for a 48-yard touchdown reception - the first of his collegiate career.
There is also a feeling among Husky freshmen that they are ready to play against whatever team comes their way.
"(The game) slowed down a lot. I felt like I was more comfortable out there," Kearse said. "The first Oregon game I was a bit nervous and it all seemed pretty fast, but this game I felt like I was comfortable with the game and it all just slowed down."
Showing a kick returning prowess was first-year player Jordan Polk, who finished the game with 109 all-purpose yards, 83 of which came from kickoff returns.
The Husky running game showed some life, after a dismal performance against Oregon a week before. A reason for that success was newcomer David Freeman, who exploded through BYU holes on six carries for 30 yards.
"I won't say (I was) nervous, more excited, because I knew I was going to play," Freeman said. "Chris Polk came out and we don't want anybody hurt in any kind of way - on our team or the other team - so I just went in and played football."
Freeman showed versatility within the offense, as he lined up in the slot from time to time and had two receptions.
"We've been working on getting the backs out in the receiver formations and running some routes, so that was something I was used to," Freeman said. "Practicing with the defense brought the speed up so we just went out there and I thought it was going to be faster."
Despite the game ending in a loss, the Huskies received a praise from coach Tyrone Willingham after the game.
"The class of 2008 is a solid class," Middleton said. "We try to take care of things and do the little things that will help out the older guys, and just try to be consistent. A lot of freshmen are being relied on to be consistent."
With the way they are playing, they might be doing a little more than the little things soon enough.