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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

March 3, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Shaq Thompson at running back? New UW coach Chris Petersen says it’s a possibility

UW linebacker Shaq Thompson (center) celebrates on the sideline after his 80-yard interception return for a touchdown against Oregon State last season. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

UW linebacker Shaq Thompson (center) celebrates on the sideline after his 80-yard interception return for a touchdown against Oregon State last season. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

Shaq Thompson, Washington’s standout outside linebacker, will have a shot to play two ways for the Huskies this spring.

Yes, Shaq’s back in the backfield.

New Washington coach Chris Petersen on Monday introduced the idea of using Thompson as a running back this spring as the Huskies try to replace All-American Bishop Sankey. UCLA used linebacker Myles Jack, the former Bellevue High School star, in similar roles last season, with Jack being named the Pac-12’s Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year.

In high school, Thompson was a first-team All-American and one of the most decorated recruits to sign with UW in the past decade. As a junior at  Sacramento’s Grant High, he rushed 1,882 yards and 25 touchdowns on 164 carries; as a senior, he rushed rushing for 1,134 yards and 15 touchdowns on 120 carries.

Thompson was an all-Pac-12 honorable-mention selection at outside linebacker in each of the past two seasons.

Petersen said speedy sophomore receiver John Ross, who helped out at nickel back in UW’s final three games of 2013, will also continue to play both ways in the spring.

“We’ll just see how that goes down the road,” Petersen said. “John Ross has played a little bit of defense. We have to maximize our talent, if he can do some things there. I know Shaq was a heck of a running back in high school, so we’ll see. But he’s a pretty good linebacker, too.”

As a true freshman for UW in 2012, Thompson returned two punts and two kickoffs for the Huskies. Three of those returns came against Petersen’s Boise State team in the Las Vegas bowl game, including Thompson’s season-long return of 30 yards.

Petersen said redshirt freshman cornerback Jermaine Kelly has also lobbied to play some receiver this spring.

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