Shaq Thompson didn’t get any snaps on offense during the Huskies’ final open scrimmage on Saturday.
He does, however, remain in the plans to be used as a running back this season.
“Shaq is going to be an interesting guy for us, just keeping him warm, keeping him in the mix,” running backs coach Keith Bhonapha said Tuesday. “As we move forward, we’ll kind of feel where the need is for him — defensively and offensively. Just with any of these guys on the team … you want to put these guys in the best position to help the team as a whole be successful.”
Thompson, entering his third year as a starting linebacker, was a standout running back in high school. UW’s new coaching staff gave him a few carries in the spring, and he impressed enough to continue that so-called experiment here in fall camp.
“With a guy that has to go back and forth both ways, you’ve got to be careful not to water him down on his main part, which for Shaq is defense,” Bhonapha said. “I think for where we have and where we’re thinking about using him, I think he’s right where he needs to be. …
“When it’s time for him to go, we’re going to put him in a position to be successful.”
With Thompson ready as a potential part-time running back, the Huskies will go with a back-by-committee approach to replace departed All-American Bishop Sankey, now with the Tennessee Titans.
Seniors Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier, sophomore Dwayne Washington and redshirt freshman Lavon Coleman — “The core four,” as Bhonapha described them — have been splitting carries this month, and that will likely continue at Hawaii … and until one runner starts to separate himself from the pack.
“All of them are special in their own way,” Bhonapha said.
Washington, at 6 feet 2, 219 pounds, has a striking blend of speed and power. At 217 pounds, Coleman also has a change-of-pace element.
“He brings some of that old-school running game mentality, being a thicker guy, a big downhill bruiser-type kid,” Bhonapha said of Coleman. “And I think he’s going to be exciting.”
Bhonapha and UW coach Chris Petersen both said consistency is the key factor for any of the running backs.
“I know we’re going to need ’em all and they’re all going to get an opportunity,” Petersen said. “And then when the game’s played, those that stay healthy, those that produce, are going to get more carries. We have a big sign in our training room: ‘Durability (is) more important than ability,’ and I certainly believe that at that position. You can have all the ability in the world, but if you’re not out there for us — that’s a tough, physical, hard position to stay healthy at.”
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