With John Ross gone, it’s time for Dante Pettis to step up as Huskies’ go-to receiver

Someone has to be the showcase receiver, and that’s where the senior Dante Pettis fits in. The Huskies feel he is at a perfect spot, mentally and physically, to shoulder the added burden.

Dante Pettis is fully aware that one of the primary story lines of the upcoming Husky football season peripherally involves him.

In the search for potential trouble areas on a team widely expected to coast through the Pac-12 season, the departure of speed-burning wideout John Ross has been near the top of the list. And since Pettis now ascends to the top of another list, that of go-to UW receivers, well, he has an intimate stake in the resolution of that question.

It’s not one that offends him, mind you.

“Obviously, people are going to say that,’’ he said. “Ross was incredible. That is a good question people would ask.”

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And those around Washington’s football team are confident they have a great answer in their deep stable of wide receivers.

“If they were out here watching us practice, I think they would go, ‘OK, they might be just fine without him,’ ’’ Pettis said. “It’s not that, oh, someone will replace Ross. I don’t think anyone can do that. The team shifts, people step up, fit where they can, and we work with what we got, and I think we do a pretty good job of that.”

But someone has to be the showcase receiver, and that’s where the senior Pettis fits in. Last year, Pettis caught 53 passes for 822 yards, numbers which would have led most teams but were overshadowed by Ross’s 81 catches for 1,150 yards. Pettis had 15 touchdown receptions, the second most in the Pac-12 – behind Ross’s 17 (though Pettis added two TDs via punt return, an area in which he is one of the best in the country).

The Huskies feel Pettis is at a perfect spot, mentally and physically, to shoulder the added burden of being the team’s No. 1 receiver. Asked to assess Pettis’ evolution from his freshman year, Coach Chris Petersen said, “More consistent, more confident — and maybe the reverse order. He just knows he can play at a much more consistent level.”

As one of a handful of Husky players entering their fourth year in the Petersen regime, Pettis has gained a vast knowledge of the coach’s system. He has attained that sweet spot where the reactions and adjustments come as second nature. As Pettis puts it, the game has slowed down, which is a…

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