A Year Makes All the Difference For Callier

It's a rarity when you rush for over 3,000 as a high school senior to be thought of as the "other" back in a recruiting class, but that's exactly how some viewed Husky sophomore Jesse Callier when he signed with Washington in February of 2010. However, when his more highly-rated classmate, Deontae Cooper, went down with a knee injury, he knew he needed to show he was more than just another body...

"When (Deontae) went down, I was sad for him, but this is football and you'd better be ready when they call your number," Callier told Dawgman.com recently. "I was happy they called on me and had the faith in me to make plays, but I was a little surprised by it all to be honest."

Not surprising to many who watched spring football was the fact that Callier was the "lightning" to Chris Polk's "thunder" in the Washington backfield as the native of Downey, California finished second on the team with 433 yards including a 107-yard effort against UCLA.

"This year, I need to get some touchdowns though," Callier said with a bit of a chuckle. "I had a couple of plays where I had a chance to go and I just didn't get free, but some of that was thinking a little too much instead of just playing and using my instincts.

"This year is so much different than last year. I understand where I'm going and what I'm doing and why I'm doing it and that's what will allow me to play faster this fall."

"It's not even fair to compare (last year to this year)," running backs coach Joel Thomas added. "His first day of college was the Monday before spring practice last year, so he's miles ahead of where he was last year. BB "That's one thing about him from last season -- not a lot of assignment errors or alignment errors during the course of the season. He picks things up pretty quickly. It was just a matter, last year, of matching our tempo. He knows our tempo now and he creates a lot of great tempo with the things he does."

As Callier gets more familiar with the offense, Thomas noted that they will do more with him and Callier said he's ready for whatever comes his way.

"I'll do whatever it takes to help us win," Callier said. "We all got a taste of what it takes to get to that bowl game and we all came here to Washington to win a championship, so we all can feel how close we are.

"We have a lot of work to do though and we have some great teams in our conference, so it's not going to be easy, but working hard isn't something we take for granted. We all want to be the best and we're putting in the time to get there."

As a prep at Warren High School, Callier finished with 6,529 yards and 82 touchdowns including a senior season that saw him finish seventh in the nation with 3,010 yards to go along with 43 touchdowns.

"I feel like I'm pretty instinctive," Callier said shortly before signing with the Huskies. "I just like to play the game and to compete."

And competition is the key to his game this year as well.

"Me and Deontae, we're friends," Callier noted. "We just want to help the team win. If that means that I get more carries or Chris does or if Deontae is hot and he gets them or Johri, it really doesn't matter to us. We just want to win games and make sure we're the best teammates we can be.

"It's a friendly competition, but we always want to improve because if we aren't, like the coaches say, 'if you aren't getting better, you're getting worse', and that's something I think we all take seriously."

One thing is for sure, if defenses don't take this backfield seriously in 2011, the Huskies could put up record numbers on the ground and that would suit Callier just fine.

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