Jake Locker’s career choice, Chris Polk’s standing among UW greats, and jayvee football in this edition. …
Q: If you were Jake Locker’s advisor, would you suggest he pursue a baseball career? This is considering his history of injuries, questionable passing skills in the eyes of many, and the longer average baseball career for those who are successful.
A: No, even if we agreed with the entire premise of your question, for the simple reason that Locker has always said his passion is with football, that it’s the sport he wants to play. I’d never tell someone not to pursue what it is they really want to do in life. He’s always made it clear he’d rather be a quarterback at the highest level he can play it, rather than any of his other options. This is his one chance in life to do that.
Q: Your pre-spring position review on our RBs, which lists the total rushing yards for Chris Polk and the other great Husky RBs, got me curious about how Polk stands up to those guys at this point in his career in the other major statistical catagories for RBs: games, attempts, average yards per carry, long, TDs, receiving, and fumbles. I am not sure if anyone keeps track of yards after contact, but if they do, I’d be curious to take a look at that too.
A: Some of that stuff isn’t readily available, especially yards after contact (which isn’t an official stat and something the coaches keep — and define — on their own).
What I can do is pass along the stats for the top 10 rushers in school history (updated through the Holiday Bowl):
1, Napoleon Kaufman, 91-94, 4,106 yards, 735 attempts, 5.6 average.
2, Joe Steele, 76-79, 3,168 yards, 676 attempts, 4.7 avg.
3, Greg Lewis, 87-90, 2,903 yards, 577 atts., 5.0.
4, Vince Weathersby, 85-88, 2,811, 606, 4.6.
5, Jacque Robinson, 81-84, 2,636, 573, 4.6.
6, Chris Polk, 09-10, 2,561, 506, 5.06.
7, Hugh McElhenny, 2,499, 451, 5.5
8, Louis Rankin, 04-07, 2,480, 488, 5.1.
9, Rich Alexis, 00-03, 2,455, 596, 4.1.
10, Rashaan Shehee, 94-97, 2,381, 421, 5.7.
As noted in the earlier entry, barring injury Polk will almost certainly move into second place on the career rushing list next season, with an outside shot at getting to the top. Should he stay four years he almost certainly would get to the top (again, obviously barring injury).
Simply listing a long run might not tell much. A stat that’s better, maybe, is most 50-yard rushes. Polk had three (including a 72-yarder against WSU — and this is a fix from the earlier entry). Kaufman leads all UW rushers with six. Steele and Alexis are second with five each while Shehee and McElhenny had four each.
TDs can also be a little deceiving since teams play more games now, scoring is higher now, and how good the team is also plays a big part of it. Polk has 14 rushing TDs, which doesn’t rank anywhere near the top 10 (which starts at 23). Kaufman, as might be expected after playing four years during an expecially dominant era of UW footbal, is the leader with 34. Steele is next at 32. Shehee and Jake Locker are next at 29 (and that Locker so often scored near the goal line is another thing that has held Polk’s TD numbers down so far).
Ultimately, you can parse the numbers a lot of different ways. What can’t be denied is that Polk has already clearly established himself as one of the best rushers in UW history.
Q: Memories are fading, but when I was a student in the early-mid ’80’s I vaguely remember the backups on the football team playing JV games or even “C” squad type games against other teams. Or maybe it was something of a scrimmage, on Friday afternoon/night against the JV of the other team or against a local community college, small college, etc. These seemed to be helpful in giving the backups “real” playing experience. Am I remembering correctly? If so, do they still do this? If not, when and why did they stop?
A: You are remembering correctly that they did used to do this, and you are also right in that they no longer do this. Junior varsity programs existed for years and had their heyday in the ’50s and ’60s when freshmen were ineligible and there were also no restrictions on scholarship. Freshmen, however, were made eligible in the early ’70s, and scholarship reductions also gradually enacted to the current 85 in the mid-90s. So there really wouldn’t be enough players anymore to form a full team without exposing to injury a lot of guys needed for the real thing (not to mention all the expense of staging such games). Also, there’s no one to play. In the old days, the jayvee teams mostly played a lot of the other community college teams in the area. But no Washington community college has had a football team since 1996 and it appears unlikely to ever return.
Q: Why don’t you do some “where are they now” type entries, and live chats with former UW players?
A: Good thoughts all the way around, though I will note we actually did a few live chats with former players this year. Just since August we have had Damon and Brock Huard, Sonny Sixkiller, Hugh Millen, Warren Moon and Chuck Nelson. You can find all of those here. We’ll continue to do some of those as we can.
As for “where are they now” type stories, I plan to try to start to make those a regular feature on the blog (at least in the off-season). We used to do those every week in the paper, but those are among the things to fall victim to space considerations in recent years. I’m open to ideas for possible “where are they now” subjects (and it’s even better if you have contact info to send me privately).
All for now.