Washington freshman WR John Ross has speed to burn

As talented as Washington's offensive core of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, running back Bishop Sankey and wide receiver Kasen Williams is, they did not deliver explosive plays on a consistent basis last season.

Take away Sankey's longest run of 61 yards -- against Stanford, of all teams -- he was a volume runner that thrived by carrying the ball 25-plus times. Williams didn't have a catch longer than 39 yards, while Seferian-Jenkins' longest grab covered 43 yards. That forced the Huskies to gradually move the ball down the field, meaning drives could stall whenever the porous offensive line finally buckled.

Enter true freshman John Ross, who Washington is counting on to take the top off opposing defenses. Teammates and coaches are going as far as comparing the 5-foot-11, 173-pound slot receiver to Reggie Bush and De'Anthony Thomas.

"Every time he has the ball in his hands you kind of hold your breath because you don't know what's going to happen," quarterback Keith Price told the Seattle Times.

Ross isn't exactly an unknown quantity, a four-star recruit coming out of Long Beach (Calif.) Jordan with offers from most of the Pac-12. But he turned heads with a steady stream of big plays during fall camp to win starting jobs as a receiver, kick returner and punt returner.

"We put him in as many tough situations as we could," head coach Steve Sarkisian said. "But until he actually has to do it (in a game), we'll see. But I feel good about it."

Washington doesn't need Ross to be DeSean Jackson or Bush or Thomas as a freshman, but if defenses have to take a man out of the box or shade coverage in Ross' direction, that could be just as valuable as an 80-yard catch.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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