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Kearse reaches potential

THURSDAY, NOV. 12, 2009

Late bloomer ignites UW receiving corps

SEATTLE – Jovan Kearse stopped playing football after middle school.

Thankfully for the University of Washington football program, his two younger brothers didn’t follow suit.

Jamaal Kearse is a senior at Lakes High School, and he’s already made an oral commitment to attend UW next season. He’ll join middle brother Jermaine Kearse, perhaps giving the Huskies the Pac-10’s next great brother combination.

UW, which will see the conference’s premier brothers this weekend when it travels to Corvallis to face Oregon State’s James and Jacquizz Rodgers, is hoping that the Kearse siblings turn into a formidable 1-2 punch of the future.

Jermaine Kearse is certainly doing his part.

After seeing only about a dozen snaps in the Huskies’ opener this season, Kearse has gradually emerged as UW’s big-play guy.

The sophomore has 14 receptions for 257 yards and two touchdowns in the past three weeks, with three catches that have gone for 30 yards or more in that span.

As teammate D’Andre Goodwin put it this week: “He’s dominating right now.”

The scary part is that Kearse came dangerously close to following in his older brother’s footsteps.

Just like Jovan Kearse had done after playing one year of football in middle school, Jermaine Kearse decided that basketball was going to be his sport of choice.

He said this week that, before his freshman year at Lakes, he told his mother: “Don’t buy me cleats this year. I don’t want to play football.”

He later reconsidered.

“I came to my senses, and finally decided to play,” Kearse said.

Not that the basketball player was a natural on the gridiron.

“He was a late bloomer,” said UW tight end Kavario Middleton, another Lakes product who has known Kearse since fifth grade. “He was a short, skinny guy. And then in high school, he kind of bulked up and got some size.”

Kearse came into his own as a junior in high school and saw football, not basketball, as his ticket to a college scholarship.

His basketball skills were on display during Saturday’s loss to UCLA. Kearse caught two jump-ball touchdown passes en route to 114 receiving yards on seven catches.

“Those two (touchdown) catches he made this weekend were great plays,” quarterback Jake Locker said. “He’s a kid that, I think his confidence in himself has definitely grown in the last couple of weeks. You can see it in the way he practices, the way he carries himself when he plays.”

Middleton has also seen Kearse’s confidence grow.

“He thinks he can go over any corner(back) in the Pac-10,” his former high school teammate said.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian has been so impressed with Kearse’s ability to outjump cornerbacks that he ranked him ahead of several All-America receivers from USC in that category.

Elisara heals

Sarkisian said defensive tackle Cameron Elisara of Ferris High (neck stinger) and linebacker E.J. Savannah (broken thumb) will sit out a second consecutive game Saturday. De’Shon Matthews is likely to start in Elisara’s place at defensive tackle, while Cort Dennison is Savannah’s backup.

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