The faces that finished the 2013 season in Washington’s backfield could very well open the 2014 in the same positions.
Cyler Miles, entering his sophomore season, is the favorite to take over as UW’s starting quarterback next season, and Jesse Callier enters his senior season first in line to reclaim the starting running back’s role he held to open the 2012 season.
Miles replaced injured senior Keith Price (ribs) late in the Huskies’ 31-16 victory over BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl. Callier took over in the fourth quarter for the injured Bishop Sankey (hand). Price is graduating and Sankey has declared early for the NFL Draft.
We’ll look at the quarterback battle — also featuring, as of now, sophomore-to-be Jeff Lindquist and redshirt freshman Troy Williams — later. For now, an early peek at the main candidates to replace Sankey as the featured back in 2014 (listed in order of 2013 total carries):
— Jesse Callier, 5-10, 207, senior: Returned from a torn ACL in the 2012 opener and rushed for 213 yards and three touchdowns on 48 carries. Highlight of the season was a 39-yard touchdown run against Illinois. Was also an underrated special-teams contributor.
— Dwayne Washington, 6-1, 220, sophomore: The converted wide receiver finished with 47 carries for 332 yards and four touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2013. Showed flashes at times, but saw his role diminish after losing fumbles on back-to-back carries against Illinois. Still, one UW insider predicted that Washington would emerge as the Huskies’ No. 1 back in 2014.
— Deontae Cooper, 6-0, 201, senior: Without a doubt, Cooper was the feel-good story of 2013 after making a successful comeback from three ACL tears in three years. At long last, he made his UW debut with six carries in the opener vs. Boise State, then had 166 yards on 11 carries in UW’s blowout at Oregon State. Finished the season with 43 carries for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He won UW’s Guy Flaherty Most Inspirational Award, said to be the team’s most prestigious honor.
— Ryan McDaniel, 6-0, 204, sophomore: Not to be completely forgotten, McDaniel did have a solid debut in mop-up duty against Idaho State, finishing with 10 carries for 47 yards. Those were his only carries on the 2013 season.
— Lavon Coleman, 6-0, 209, redshirt freshman: The former four-star recruit won the Bob Jarvis Offensive Scout Squad MVP award this past season. “Watch out for Lavon Coleman,” the UW insider said. “He’ll be a sleeper. … He’s a bowling ball with good speed. Very strong, good cuts. A lot like Bishop.” High praise for a young back who, we assume, will get a chance to prove himself under new coach Chris Petersen.
Note: The Huskies do not currently have a running back recruit committed for the Class of 2014.