CHRISTIAN CAPLE

How Odunze and McMillan compare to past UW Huskies WR tandems

May 26, 2023, 10:58 AM | Updated: 10:59 am

UW Huskies Jalen McMillan Rome Odinze...

Jalen McMillan of the UW Huskies celebrates a touchdown on Sept. 30, 2022. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In terms of receptions and receiving yards, Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan had the best season ever by a UW Huskies receiver duo in 2022.

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They were the first pair of UW receivers ever to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in the same season, combining for 2,243 yards and 16 touchdowns. Odunze led the Pac-12 in receiving despite missing one game, and McMillan was third (fifth in yards per game). Both are former four-star recruits, and both chose to return for a fourth college season in 2023, a big reason why Washington regularly appears at a top-10 team in preseason rankings.

Have the Huskies ever put two better receivers together on the field? Have they ever returned a pair as talented and productive as Odunze and McMillan? Does anyone else come close? We examine the six most productive UW receiver duos behind the Huskies’ two current stars — ranked in order of combined receiving yards — to see how they compare.

Reggie Williams and Charles Frederick, 2002

Combined yards: 2,105

Touchdowns: 13

There is a more balanced Williams-Frederick season on record, and we’ll get to it. But Williams was so dominant as a sophomore (1,454 yards, 11 touchdowns) that even Frederick’s 651 yards were enough to have this duo No. 2 on UW’s all-time list of combined receiving yards — and they were No. 1 until Odunze and McMillan came along. Interestingly, it was actually Patrick Reddick, and not Frederick, who ranked No. 2 on the team in receptions in 2002.

Jerome Pathon and Fred Coleman, 1997

Combined yards: 2,090

Touchdowns: 17

Catching passes from quarterback Brock Huard, Pathon and Coleman are one of only three duos in school history to eclipse 2,000 yards in a season (with bowl-game stats now factored in, though they weren’t at the time). Pathon had a monster year, catching 73 passes for 1,299 yards and eight touchdowns, and Coleman finished with 791 and nine touchdowns. Both were drafted the following spring — Pathon in the second round, Coleman in the sixth. Pathon spent eight seasons in the league, with the Colts, Bears and Falcons, while Coleman played sparingly in the NFL before stints in the Arena Football League and XFL.

John Ross III and Dante Pettis, 2016

Combined yards: 1,972

Touchdowns: 32

There is one receiver-duo stat that will be difficult for Odunze and McMillan to reach: the 32 combined touchdowns Ross (17) and Pettis (15) caught in 2016, which also set a Pac-12 record. To put that in perspective, consider that Michael Penix Jr. threw 31 touchdowns, total, during his brilliant 2022 season.

Ross (1,150 yards) and Pettis (822) only had one season together as legitimate stars. Pettis was a true freshman in 2014, and Ross, a sophomore, wound up switching to cornerback for the second half of the season. Ross missed all of 2015 after tearing his ACL, and entered the draft after the 2016 season, going No. 9 overall to the Bengals. Pettis became a second-rounder the following year, after leading UW in receiving in 2017.

Reggie Williams and Charles Frederick, 2003

Combined yards: 1,940

Touchdowns: 13

This was another 1,000-yard season for Williams, the former five-star recruit from Lakewood who became UW’s all-time leading receiver and the No. 9 pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. But Frederick, himself a former five-star recruit, put up better numbers in 2003 than you might remember, snagging 59 passes for 831 yards (Williams finished with 1,109). The Huskies weren’t very good, finishing 6-6 and without a bowl invitation, but not because of Williams, Frederick or senior quarterback Cody Pickett.

Williams played five seasons for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Injuries limited Frederick to five catches for 253 yards as a senior at UW in 2004. He played a few seasons in the Arena Football League, winning Rookie of the Year in 2007.

Mario Bailey and Orlando McKay, 1991

Combined yards: 1,802

Touchdowns: 24

OK, so Bailey is carrying much of the load here, with his 1,163 yards and 18 touchdowns, counting bowl stats — good enough for co-offensive player of the year in the conference. But McKay was a solid No. 2 option for the unbeaten, co-national champion Huskies, catching 48 passes for 639 yards and six touchdowns. Bailey became a sixth-round NFL Draft pick the following spring, and ultimately spent six seasons in NFL Europe, playing in Germany. McKay was taken in the fifth round and spent a season with the Green Bay Packers before a couple years in the CFL.

Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, 2012

Combined yards: 1,730

Touchdowns: 13

We’re cheating a little bit here, because Seferian-Jenkins was a tight end. But he produced like a receiver. His 850 yards in 2012 set the school record for receiving yards by a tight end. Williams, a fellow sophomore, led the team with 878 yards on 77 catches. ASJ wound up a second-round draft pick and spent five seasons in the league, while a severe leg injury sustained in 2013 interrupted Williams’ trajectory. He spent time on a few different practice squads and also was going to give it a go with the XFL in 2020 before the league shut down.

This column from UW Huskies football insider Christian Caple is exclusive to Seattle Sports. Subscribe to OnMontlake.com for full access to Caple’s in-depth Husky coverage.

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How Odunze and McMillan compare to past UW Huskies WR tandems