Post-Spring Review: Running Backs

The Huskies emerged from spring with several capable ball-carriers to line up behind whoever ends up at the quarterback position and you can bet the Washington coaches will rely heavily on the running game early in the season as Jake Locker's replacement gets comfortable. With that in mind, here is a post-spring look at the running back and fullback positions as we head into the offseason...

In almost any other conference, Chris Polk would be considered the top running back, however with Oregon's LaMichael James likely to be a Heisman candidate for a second-straight season, Polk will have to settle for second place.

Or will he?

While Polk most definitely benefited from the presence of Locker in the running game, this year he will be the sole focus of the offense as the new starter – likely to be either Keith Price or Nick Montana – gets his feet under him.

Polk has outstanding size and appeared much quicker and faster this spring. The coaches really liked how decisive he was when carrying the ball and as the young offensive line gels more, he should be able to find some openings.

When Polk takes a breather, the duties will fall to either senior Johri Fogerson or youngsters Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper.

Fogerson, who may not be available early in the year due to a possible suspension over an off-field incident that still needs to be resolved, looked great this spring showing a good burst while also running behind his pads. He's also widely considered the best receiver out of the backfield, so it is very likely he will find his way on the field on way or the other this fall.

Callier took the bulk of the extra carries last year when Fogerson and Cooper were lost for the season due to injuries. He's super-quick and has a great burst once he gets into the open field. He can run away from defenders, but still needs to get stronger so he can break tackles and become a better inside runner.

Because he tore his ACL in preseason camp, we didn't get to see what Cooper could do against opposing defenses last year, but before the injury, the talented runner from Southern California was gashing the Husky defense on a regular basis.

This spring, Cooper was on the sidelines while continuing to recover from his injury, but when he took part in individual drills, you could see the burst and quickness he displayed last year. It will be interesting to see how he progresses this summer and into the fall as well as how the coaches split up the carries between all four runners.

Bishop Sankey, the top running back in the state of Washington the past couple years, switched his commitment from Washington State to the Huskies shortly before Signing Day and he'll bring his quickness and physical style to Montlake this summer when he enrolls with the other freshmen.

To say having a stable full of talented runners is a good problem to have would be an understatement and the coaches will have some tough decisions to make, but it's doubtful they would prefer to have it any other way.

The fullbacks have several bodies to throw into the mix on a play-by-play basis.

Former walk-on linebacker Jonathan Amosa, now on scholarship, switched to fullback and emerged from spring ball as the top lead-blocker in Washington's offensive attack.

Amosa is hard-nosed and he's a good athlete so the coaches feel he can be a threat both blocking as well as catching the ball out of the backfield.

Also in the mix is Zach Fogerson who has struggled a little this spring as a lead-blocker. Where the former O'Dea standout excels is as a runner and the Husky coaches did their best to figure out ways in which they can use him as the primary ball-carrier.

Fogerson also has very soft hands and his athleticism makes him a weapon that can really help the Husky offense if he can find some consistency.

Kimo Makaula is entering his third year in the program, but he has yet to find his niche. He's a good athlete, but a bit stiff and he hasn't really picked up his blocking to the point where the coaches can feel comfortable with him in that role.

Where he needs to make a name for himself is in the passing game where his soft hands and athleticism can really be put on display. Look for Makaula to see some time at the H-back position this fall and to be a target in short-yardage and goal line situations.

Dezden Petty signed with the Huskies this past February after being a commit to San Diego State for most of the year. He's a big, physical runner who can carry the ball as well as block and the coaches are happy to be able to add his size and athleticism to the mix.

Post-Spring Depth Chart

Running Backs
Chris Polk (RS Jr.)
Jesse Callier (So.) or
Johri Fogerson (Sr.) or
Deontae Cooper (RS Fr.)
Bishop Sankey (Fr.)*
Cole Sager (Jr.)* or
Willis Wilson (RS Fr.)

Jonathan Amosa (RS Jr.) or
Zach Fogerson (So.)
Kimo Makaula (RS So.)
Dezden Petty (Fr.) Top Stories