SEATTLE – Kasen Williams needed a place to stay.
Washington’s talented young receiver wanted to spend the summer training with teammates. All he needed was a couch to crash on. He found a futon in Cody Bruns’ living room.
Whether it was history lessons or training sessions, Williams learned a lot from the 5-foot-11, 183-pound receiver.
“It was cool, because Cody is an older guy on the team and he’s been through so much,” said Williams, a sophomore. “He came here and his first year they went 0-12. He kind of gave me a lot of history on how it was. He’s a Washington guy, too, so we get along really well.”
Bruns taught Williams about work ethic. He shared tips about taking the next step as a Division I receiver. He shared the leadership skills acquired over a college career.
“He’s been in that situation before and he knows what it takes,” Williams said.
Because of the lessons learned this summer, Williams had no problem sleeping on that futon.
For Bruns, helping out younger players is just part of being “the old guy in the room.”
“They ask a lot of questions,” said Bruns, who is one of two senior receivers on the roster. “Sometimes they get down. It’s camp, you’re grinding all the time, but you pick them up. You tell them you’ve been there. You give them examples of what you’ve been through.”
As he works through his fifth and final fall camp, Bruns has embraced the grind. He knows what to expect. He knows how to contribute.
“You’re more comfortable,” Bruns said. “You play more free. You know the offense. You know the system. You know what to expect. You know the ins and outs.”
Through the first week of camp, Bruns has been one of the more consistent contributors. He was a part of the play of the day during the team’s first practice, getting behind safety Sean Parker on a flag route just enough to catch a pristine pass from quarterback Keith Price.Then, on the second day, he hit Williams for a touchdown on a reverse pass. He has been as consistent as he is versatile, making clutch catches as he tries to secure a spot in the receiver rotation.
“Whatever role I’m put at, I want to excel at that,” Bruns said. “However I can help this team, that’s what I’m looking to do.”
When asked about Bruns’ versatility earlier this week, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian compared him to former major leaguer Steve Lyons.
“You’d look up, he’s at first,” Sarkisian said. “He’s in right field. He’d get on the mound and pitch. And that’s how Cody feels to me. He just kind of does cool stuff that, for us, is fun because we can put him in spots and trust him.”
In high school, Bruns was a record-setting receiver. He caught 310 passes for 5,178 yards and 72 touchdowns. He played in seven games during each of his first two seasons with the Huskies and, as a junior, played in all 13 games.
He suffered a broken clavicle against Washington State in the Apple Cup, but was able to return as the holder for the Huskies’ bowl win over Nebraska.
Then, prior to the 2011 season, Bruns faced his toughest test after the death of his father, Bucky. Rather than push through a senior season while grieving, Sarkisian allowed Bruns to redshirt.
“The ups and downs, it teaches you a lot about life,” Bruns said. “I’ve grown so much from a freshman to senior year. College football has taught me a lot.”
After sitting out a season, Bruns knows this is the “last one.” He plans to make the most of it.
“You only get to play college football once,” he said. “It’s a great experience. You’ve got to cherish it. I wouldn’t change anything. It’s been a great ride.”