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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

March 6, 2010 at 8:48 AM

Spring position overview — the tailbacks UPDATED

I’ll try to get on a more regular schedule with these position overviews now. I’m in Arizona helping out with our spring training coverage but should have some breaks to get these up over the next week or so.
Anyway, today’s position to examine is tailback, which could loom as a real strength for the Huskies this year, especially if some younger players progress quickly to add depth.
RETURNING SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS: 5 — Chris Polk, So.; Demitrius Bronson, So.; Johri Fogerson, Jr., Curtis Shaw, Jr.; Brandon Yakaboski, Jr.
INCOMING FRESHMEN — 2 — Deontae Cooper, Jesse Callier (Assuming that Chris Young starts out on defense).
SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS LOST: 1 — Willie Griffin (transferred).
RETURNING STARTERS — 1 (Polk).
KEY QUESTION: Who will emerge as the No. 2 back behind Polk?
LOOK AHEAD — One thing that stands out is that UW really isn’t as deep here as it seemed at times during recruiting. With Griffin departing and Young moving to defense, the Huskies have enough bodies, but it’s not exactly USC of recent years with seemingly guys lined up out the door. This is a high-injury position and TB corps can get thin pretty quickly.
The starting position is set heading into the spring with Polk, who had the best freshman season ever for a Husky last year with 1,113 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He’s expected to miss the spring after having some cleanup work done on his shoulder. UPDATE — (As some of you noted, I left Brandon Yakaboski off this initally. He should be included though I’m not clear that his status will be for the spring as he continues to recover from a knee injury. UW coach Steve Sarkisian said after the season he thought Yakaboski might return and was anxious to see him in action).
Polk’s absence will allow Bronson, Fogerson, Shaw and Cooper — who has already enrolled and will be available for spring — to duke it to for the No. 2 job. I think UW coaches would like a few players to emerge and show they can handle regular duty to take some of the wear and tear off of Polk.
With highly-touted Cooper coming in, and Callier following in the fall, this seems a particularly critical spring for Bronson, Fogerson and Shaw to state their case.
Bronson was actually UW’s third-leading rusher last year and second among running backs with 89 yards on 19 — I can’t imagine a year when there was such a gap between the leading tailback rusher for UW and the No. 2, indicative of how much trust they had in Polk and his durability. But he struggled at times with fumbles and consistency, areas the coaches will be eying this spring.
Fogerson crafted a role for himself as kind of a third-down back, able to catch passes (he had 17 for 191) and also run when needed. But he ended up with just 14 carries for 46 yards and would surely like more this season. A mid-season illness helped slow his progress as he had just one carry in the last five games.
Shaw also has had troubles with fumbles and had just three carries after the Idaho game, the second of the season, finishing with 32 yards on eight carries for the season. But his speed remains intriguing as does his receiving ability.
Cooper will obviously be one of the highlight stories of the spring after rushing for 2,863 yards last fall as a senior, ranking second in the state of California and 11th in the country. UW had five active (meaning non-redshirting) scholarship tailbacks last year, so you can see the opportunity is there for Cooper to earn a playing role this season. (Should add that Callier has also said he will be here for the spring and if he makes it — no reason to think he won’t but always need to make sure — he’ll also be in that mix to compete for immediate playing time).
Overall, this position appears to be as well-stocked for the future as it has been in years (maybe since the 2000-2001 period). What there still isn’t a lot of yet is experienced depth, and the way the coaches seemed to have a different flavor-of-the-week as the backup all last season indicated that there is lots of opportunity to become the main option behind Polk. Should be a real interesting four-man competition this spring.

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