(1090 The Fan) — One of the few remaining holdovers from former head coach Steve Sarkisian’s first full recruiting class (the class of 2010), senior wide receiver Kevin Smith is one of the Huskies preparing for his final game wearing the UW purple.
In four years, Smith has progressed from the “athlete” he came in as, to one of the more polished receivers Washington has produced in the last decade.
The raw receiver toiled on the depth chart below upperclassmen like Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar as well as fellow classmate James Johnson, for the majority of his first three seasons at Washington. Thus, Smith received most of his playing time on special teams as a return man to take advantage of his speed. Those factors as well as some nagging injuries, combined to limit Smith to a total of 22 receptions for 294 yards through his junior year.
Despite those unfortunate circumstances, Smith progressed at his receiving craft all the while. Finally, in 2013 Smith received some good fortune. He returned to full health, rose to the top of the depth chart alongside junior Kasen Williams and became one of Keith Price’s favorite targets.
This season, Smith has caught 45 passes for 722 yards (leading all UW receivers) and four touchdowns. He’s also been lauded by the UW coaching staff for his outstanding blocking and leadership within the locker room. Sarkisian named him as one of his “two or three favorite players” on the team prior to his departure.
Smith acknowledges the hardships he has endured, but is glad he came to Washington. He also knows how far he has come and realizes there will be some emotion for him next Friday.
“I’m happy, but (it’s) a little bittersweet,” Smith said of the emotions he has. “It’s the last game, it’s going to be a great memory. You feel like you’re leaving some of your younger brothers behind a little bit.”
Asked whether he’s excited for taking the next step in his football career, Smith affirmed he was.
“Most definitely,” said Smith. “I’m ready to get after it this offseason and see if I can get an opportunity at the next level.”
If his progression over his 4-year career at the UW is any indication, it’s safe to say he’ll get more than an opportunity.
Sankey, ASJ Have Important Decision To Make
In nine days, the Washington Huskies will conclude their football season, and when the final seconds tick off the clock of the Fight Hunger Bowl, several Huskies will see their Washington careers come to a conclusion as well.
For two Huskies, that conclusion isn’t as certain.
Junior tailback Bishop Sankey and junior tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins both have important decisions to make once the final outcome against BYU has been decided.
Sankey has had a tremendous 3-year career, capped by this year’s campaign in which he has rushed for 1,775 yards and 18 touchdowns on 306 carries, an average of 5.8 yards-per-carry. He also has caught 25 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield. The accolades for Sankey continue to roll in. He was named to the Pac-12 first team, a Doak Walker award finalist and second-team All-America choice.
Sefarian-Jenkins, meanwhile, won the Mackey Award for the nation’s top tight end, was voted to the Pac-12 second team and a third-team All-America player after catching 33 passes for 477 yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games.
Sankey talked about the future a little Wednesday after practice, saying he’s focused on the bowl game and waiting to hear back from the NFL after submitting paperwork for a draft evaluation.
“Just taking it as slow as possible and really focus on it moreso after the bowl game,” said Sankey. “I’m really just waiting on (the NFL assessment). That’s really the next step and I can’t tell you anything until that comes in to be honest.”
“Really, we’re just trying to get ready for the bowl game and focused on that,” added Sankey in reference to where he and Sefarian-Jenkins are in the process of making their respective decision.
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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