Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Jaydon Mickens makes mark as freshman
By Mason Kelley
SEATTLE -- Jaydon Mickens rarely passes up an opportunity to do extra drills. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see him linger on the Dempsey Indoor turf while his teammates headed for the locker room after a recent practice.
Once Mickens finished, he reflected on his freshman season.
Washington WR Jaydon Mickens credits his older teammates with making him stronger and tougher -- and able to catch his first colllege TD pass last week against Colorado.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound receiver called it a “learning experience.” He pointed to the older players who have pushed him in the right direction.
When asked which players have helped him the most, Mickens didn’t hesitate.
“Actually, the whole team has taken me under their wings,” he said. “Everybody is trying to get each other better. Everybody is trying to get each other right.”
“All those guys are banding together, making me better,” Mickens said.
In Mickens’ first year with the program, the Huskies needed a complement to sophomore standouts Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Mickens went into fall camp full of confidence. He didn’t let his age limit his effectiveness.
Whether it was making plays over the middle or down the field, Mickens wanted to prove he could play right away.
“Everybody wants to play big-time college football,” Mickens said. “If you’re scared and you get the opportunity, you might lose it. I came in -- I wasn’t scared. I was going over the middle, taking shots. That’s how you earn your respect.”
Early in camp, Mickens impressed his teammates and the coaching staff so much he earned a spot in the starting lineup in the season opener.
“He’s a unique kid,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “He loves football, and he loves being out here competing. He has high standards for himself and sometimes puts a little too much pressure on himself. I think that’s why maybe he’s had some drops along the way.”
Through 11 games, the receiver has 18 catches for 178 yards. He caught his first touchdown pass during Washington’s win over Colorado last week.
But, while he has shown flashes, he knows he still has plenty to prove. He has already had his share of highs and lows.
Against Cal, Mickens slipped behind the defense. He was wide open and had a chance to score the first touchdown of his career. But he couldn’t corral the catch.
When the ball tumbled to the turf, Mickens took the drop as a challenge. When faced with a similar scenario one week later, he made a play. He caught a 47-yard pass during the Huskies’ win over Utah.
“It’s learning,” Mickens said. “I did everything different. I didn’t feel that confident on the Cal play, but in the last game, it seemed like that drop made my confidence go up. It let me know you don’t get so many chances, especially with the guys on this field at this great university. You’ve got to make the most of your opportunities.”
The more plays he makes, the more chances he gets.
“He’s a dynamic football player and, one of these games, he’s really going to break out,” Sarkisian said. “Then I think the sky’s the limit.
“Hopefully we can continue to get him involved, because he is a great complement to Kasen and Austin with his ability to stretch the field to open up those areas for those guys. If you don’t honor him, he can run right by you, not only on the deep balls, but also on the crossing routes coming through zones and making plays.”
When asked about the things he needs to work on in order to become a complete receiver, Mickens said, “everything.”
He plans to improve his route running and speed, while producing a penchant for finding the end zone. He is off to a good start. But it takes time.
“I already came with the mentality to work hard,” Mickens said. “This season is going great. I didn’t think it would be this good. We had some ups and downs, but now we’re on the right path and we want it.