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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

May 12, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Post-spring position review — Running backs

polkwsu.jpg

We’ll continue the position reviews with one that should be a real strength for the Huskies this year — running back. On paper, UW has a group of tailbacks that could be as strong as any other in the Pac-12 this year, led by returning 1,415-yard rusher Chris Polk (above in the Apple Cup in a Dean Rutz photo) as well as some reason for optimism at fullback.

Before venturing further, here’s the depth chart at each running back spot

TAILBACK
Chris Polk, 5-11, 214, RJr.
Jesse Callier, 5-10, 205, So.
Deontae Cooper, 6-0, 193, RFr.
Johri Fogerson, 6-1, 207, Sr.
Willis Wilson, 5-9, 178, RFr.
Cole Sager, 5-10, 196, Jr.

NEWCOMERS ARRIVING IN THE FALL
Bishop Sankey, 5-10, 194, Fr.

FULLBACK
Jonathan Amosa, 5-11, 223, Jr.
Zach Fogerson, 6-0, 238, So.
Kimo Makaula, 6-2, 229, RSo.

NEWCOMERS ARRIVING IN THE FALL
Dezden Petty, 6-0, 213, Fr.

POSITION OVERVIEW

It’s probably been since 1996, when UW had Corey Dillon and Rashaan Shehee, that the Huskies have appeared to be as deep at tailback.

Polk returns as one of the most established backs in the country, and Callier is a proven backup. Cooper, assuming he returns from the ACL injury that knocked him out of last season — and all indications in the spring are that he is on track to do just that — is a promising alternative with home-run potential. Fogerson bounced back with a solid spring after a lost 2010 season (and his legal issues don’t appear serious enough to cost him significant, if any, playing time). Wilson, a walk-on, had some good days in the spring adding depth. And heralded recruit Sankey will arrive in the fall to make the position that much deeper.

An obvious question is how UW spreads the ball around.

As noted in the pre-spring overview, one way is that there may simply be more carries this year to go around. UW averaged 37 carries last season — Polk averaged 20 of those. As the Huskies break in a new QB, they may depend on the run a little more, so there could easily be another 20 or so a game even if Polk’s carries increased by a few. And Keith Price (or Nick Montana) may not be called on to run as much as Jake Locker.

Figure the UW coaches to also try to get creative to find ways to get the ball to some of the others, meaning getting them on the field doesn’t have to come at the expense of Polk but could come alongside him. Each has slightly different strengths and UW coaches will find ways to get them on the field in ways that magnify those (which may be particularly true of Fogerson, who figured to have a role as a third-down-type back before injuries hit last season).

As will be the case with all the freshmen, Sankey will be given a chance in the fall to prove he deserves to be on the field. But given the depth at the spot, figure the coaches to play that one conservatively.

As for fullback, the Huskies would like to get that position more involved this year, and early returns in the spring were promising when Zach Fogerson — who has good running ability and appears able as a receiver, as well — was healthy. He suffered a concussion and missed the last couple weeks, which allowed Amosa to emerge as the starter. Amosa might have been one of the real risers of the spring, a former walk-on who was moved from linebacker just prior to the spring and impressed coaches with his toughness and ability to pick up the position quickly. Makaula is in the depth but will be challenged in the fall by incoming frosh Petty.

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