Washington football: Previewing the RB position

Over Sarkisian’s tenure as the Washington football coach, the program reached new heights in its rushing attack. Last year, this culminated in Bishop Sankey running for 1,870 yards (school record) and 20 touchdowns. It will be up to a new group of young running backs to fill the massive hole left by Sankey.

Sark left the cupboard very full, which will make competition this fall intense. Now it is time to meet your Washington football backfield:

[Washington football: Previewing the quarterback position]

Jesse Callier (5-foot-10, 202 pounds) Senior

A senior whose involvement has diminished as the years have gone by, Callier will struggle to find his place in the offense again this year. An ACL injury early in the 2012 season ruined any chances of Callier legitimately contending for a starting role, however, I doubt he would have won the spot from Sankey regardless. Callier is a smaller back, yet doesn’t possess impact speed. Other than a veteran presence, Callier doesn’t bring any unique qualities to the position and will most likely see limited action this season because of it.

Deontae Cooper (6-foot, 201 pounds) Senior

For the first time since he enrolled early at UW, Cooper was able to participate in the Washington football spring preview this year. Cooper was certain to make the most of it.

Splitting the majority of the carries with fellow back Lavon Coleman in the spring, Cooper looked to prove that he is fully back from three, yes three, ACL injuries that have prevented him from having the impact on the field that he anticipated. Cooper looked fast, strong, and confident in his running ability. A sight that hasn’t been seen since his days at Citrus Hill high school in California.

Due to his injuries, I doubt Cooper will be able to step into a role that requires a lot of work from him. But the occasional 5 carries a game would be a deserved, as well as welcomed sight by dawg fans.

Cooper’s dedication and positive attitude throughout his college career should be an inspiration to us all. When he walks on the field in 2014, fans from all around will cascade him with shouts and applause because of the path he has had to take in order to get here. And no player to don the purple and gold has ever been more deserving of such a welcoming.

Dwayne Washington (6-foot-2, 221 pounds) Sophomore

My pick to be the starting back for the Huskies next year, Washington brings a unique blend of size and speed to the position. Size and speed that haven’t been seen at UW since the likes of Corey Dillon.

Washington football

credit: gohuskies

A big, physical back unafraid to grind out yards, Washington showed his true talents last year when he sprinted for touchdowns of 32 yards and 71 yards against Oregon State. Two fumble in consecutive carries against Illinois early in the season prevented Washington from seeing significant action last season. Had he improved his ball carrying, I believe he would have split more carries with Sankey.

Washington compares nicely to Adrian Peterson. A big, physical ball carrier who can muscle the rock between the tackles, but has the long stride and speed to break massive runs. Sankey blazed a trail for Husky running backs by being drafted in the second round and bringing recognition to the position that the huskies have not experienced in some time.

Washington has the potential to be drafted even higher. However, all of that begins only if Washington proves he is the man for the job and actualizes his immense talent.

[Washington football: Spring preview winners]

Lavon Coleman (6-foot, 215 pounds) RS Freshman

An absolute bowling ball of a back, Coleman set out this spring to prove that he is worthy of first team reps. Splitting reps with Cooper, Coleman stood out as the most able ball carrier.

He continually showed off his strength by pushing the pile and grinding out valuable yards. He also showed his big play ability when he scampered 47 yards for a touchdown which ended the day’s festivities.

Coleman doesn’t appear to be as fast as Washington, but his compact size should benefit him more in short yardage situations. As it stands now, I would put Coleman as the number two running back behind Washington.  If Coleman continues to impress like he did during the spring, he could easily find himself moving up the depth chart pretty quickly.

Ralph Kinne (5-foot-10, 203 pounds) RS Freshman

A local product from Shelton, Kinne brought a level of physicality to the position this spring that would have otherwise been lacking due to injury. Kinne was unafraid to bruise his way through the middle of the defense and was able to churn out yards. Unfortunately, Kinne does not posses nearly the physical qualities of the other backs. Because of a backfield loaded with talent, I doubt Kinne will ever see legitimate playing time.

Jomon Dotson (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) Freshman

Similar to Kinne’s situation, Dotson joins a running back corps that is deeply talented. Finding  a role early will be unlikely for him. Dotson looks to have good speed and decent agility. It may be a while before Dotson is able to get his chance on the field, but in the mean time, he provides speed and depth to a position group that is sure to continue the success of its predecessors.

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  • Court

    Cooper actually has participated in both spring practices and a spring game before….Also you talk as if he didn’t have a 100 yard game this past year, or even play at all this past year. And finally he has been given sophomore eligibility this year.

    • Lucas Clarke

      Cooper hasn’t played in spring since his early enrollment. He injured himself early in fall camp his freshman year 2010, again in spring of 2011, and then again in fall of 2012. Academically he is a senior which is why I listed him as such. Given the fact that he has had three major injuries, I doubt he will exercise his eligibility beyond this year.