- Terry Blount, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kearse played for the University of Washington and Baldwin played for Stanford. They had a bet on the game between their alma maters last weekend, in which Stanford defeated the Huskies 31-28.
"I have to wear some kind of Stanford apparel one day this week," Kearse said. "So you'll probably see me wearing a Stanford cap for about 15 minutes."
That little bet was Kearse's only failure last weekend. He stood out in Seattle's 34-28 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Kearse blocked a punt that became a Seahawks safety and had a 28-yard touchdown reception with a leaping sideline catch at the goal line.
"I'm just trying to make the best of my opportunities," Kearse said. "The main thing I want to do is show consistency."
Kearse has consistently looked good any time he's been on the field this season, which hasn't been often on offense as the team's fourth receiver. But he has two touchdown receptions (tied for the most of any Seattle receiver) in just four catches. Kearse also has returned three kickoffs for a 24.7-yard average.
"He's done a great job for us," coach Pete Carroll said. "We have growing confidence in him. We need to get more opportunities to him, because he's done everything well."
Another person in Kearse's corner is former Washington teammate Jake Locker, the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback who will be in Seattle this weekend when the Titans play Seahawks. Locker is out with a hip injury.
"I expected him to have a good career in the NFL and he's doing that now," Locker said of Kearse. "I'm really excited for him. You see his work ethic paying off. He's making an impact in a lot of different ways, not only on offense, but also on special teams. He's always willing to do whatever the team asks of him. I'm proud of him."
Locker was a first-round draft choice in 2011, but Kearse was signed by Seattle last season as an undrafted rookie free agent.
"I watched him a lot [in college]," Carroll said. "I always thought he had more potential than what he showed. He could always make terrific plays. I was excited to see what he would do because I had a sense for his potential."
Carroll said he had to get tough on Kearse at times.
"I was kind of on his butt, to tell you the truth," Carroll said. "Plays got away from him. I got on him pretty hard about finishing plays and really giving us everything he had.
"But before that, he sent us a message about being tough, and that was exactly what we were hoping. [Seattle receivers coach] Kippy Brown has loved him from the first week we had him and has been singing his praises since. He's done a great job."
Kearse said he had no problem with Carroll's rigorous instruction when he first arrived.
"You want that," he said. "You want a coach who is going to help you get better."
Carroll also said he believes Kearse's Lasik eye surgery in the offseason has made a difference in his play.
"He's been terrific since the surgery, to tell you the truth," Carroll said. "He has made great catches, one right after another, and has continued to impress us."
Locker said he saw Kearse as the guy who could make the big play when they needed it.
"He is such a good deep-ball threat," Locker said. "In college, we threw it downfield to him quite a bit. He has the ability to use his body as leverage to always come down with the ball. Whether he was open didn't really matter. He found ways to come down with the ball. Everybody can use a guy like that."
Carroll agrees and wants to find ways to use Kearse's skills more often.
"He's a very good route runner," Carroll said. "And he's a terrific guy on the deep ball. He's one of our fastest guys. We're going to continue to expect he'll be more of a factor. He's earned that. We need to get him the football a little bit more."
As for making little wagers on his Huskies, Kearse isn't given up. He plans to make a similar bet this week with Seahawks center Max Unger, who played at Oregon. The second-ranked Ducks play the Huskies on Saturday.
"We'll figure something out," Kearse said. "But I think it's a winnable game for Washington."