SEATTLE -- From the standpoint of pure athleticism, there are might not be anyone on Washington's roster that can match wide receiver Kasen Williams.
So Williams didn't like it much when sophomore Austin Seferian-Jenkins, one of the few who could make the case of being equal to Williams, decided to add defensive end to his resume along with being one of the top tight ends in the country.
"I want to do the same thing he is doing. I don't want to be sitting here. That just shows that he may be a better athlete than me and I'm not down for that," Williams said, with a laugh.
Seferian-Jenkins holds most Washington records for productivity by a tight end after less than two full seasons heading into Friday's Apple Cup against rival Washington State.
The versatile Seferian-Jenkins, who also plays on the basketball team, is on his way to becoming one of the more dynamic players in Washington's program. In hoops, he came off the bench a season ago when Washington won the Pac-12 Conference regular season title.
Seferian-Jenkins also pitched in the last two weeks as a pass-rushing defensive end because injuries have thinned the Huskies defensive line. Oh, and he recovered a fumble last week at Colorado.
"I'm just lucky to be able to have great teammates around me and great coaches and a great quarterback that make this possible," Seferian-Jenkins said. "So it doesn't surprise me in the fact that I have all these great players around me that would help me get to where I want to be.”
His decision to play both basketball and football at Washington wasn't based on trying to follow the success of NFL stars Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham and other who have translated the skills of a post player on the basketball court into the supplemental skills on the football field.
Seferian-Jenkins did it because he enjoys basketball, although he's seeing the benefits on the football field.
Catching a pass at its highest point and the eye-hand coordination required is just like going up for a rebound. The footwork needed to set a screen and spin to post up on the low block aren't much different from coming out of a three-point stance and drive blocking on a run play.
"A lot of the post moves honestly help with the offensive line," Seferian-Jenkins said. "Along with just running the court and making cuts, doing dribbles, crossovers, behind the ball, all that can be translated back over to the passing game with getting open and using your hands.”
Seferian-Jenkins is already Washington's all-time leader for a tight end in single season receptions (58 entering Friday), career receptions (99), career yards (1,291) and career receiving touchdowns (11). He would need to stay all four years and increase his production slightly, but he does have a shot at the NCAA record for yards receiving by a tight end, currently held by Dennis Pitta.
After just 24 career games at Washington, at a school known for producing NFL caliber tight ends, Seferian-Jenkins could establish school marks that will stand for generations. He's a finalist for the Mackey Award, given to the top tight end in the country along, along with Stanford's Zach Ertz and Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert.
But Seferian-Jenkins is the only one who will return next season and there's no doubt he has at least one more season of catching passes at Washington. As a true sophomore, he's not yet eligible to declare for the NFL draft.
"I think his willingness to improve in the blocking game is evident," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "We are seeing him doing a better job of that. And his willingness to do what's best for the team by going over and playing on defense in some obvious passing downs and recovering a fumble in last week's ball game, I think speaks volumes for the type of individual he is.
"If there are three better tight ends in this country better than Austin, then I'd like to see them. I know there's some pretty good ones in our conference, but I'd put 88 right up with them all.”