Offensive Newcomers to Watch: No. 4

Today we continue our look at a few of the underclassmen who could be big contributors this season and one that has people intrigued about what he can bring to the Husky offense is RB Deontae Cooper. After missing two straight seasons with a torn ACL, the talented redshirt sophomore will be brought along slowly as the coaches hope to ease him into the wide-open running back rotation...

Scouting Report - Before the injuries, Cooper was a player who pretty much had it all -- good size, great speed and vision -- and he could make plays as both a receiver and a runner.

During spring ball in 2010, the last time he was completely healthy, Cooper showed the ability to run through tackles while running away from defenders when he got into the open field.

During the spring this year, Cooper didn't see the field. Instead, he did agility drills with the trainers on the side. During the workouts, he looked good, showing explosion and athleticism, but it won't be until we see what he can do when he is able to take part in contact drills before we will know what sort of an impact he will have this season.

The competition - Assuming that he's fully healthy this year, Cooper, at least initially, will likely be behind both Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey and will probably battle the likes of Willis Wilson and Erich Wilson for reps.

Cooper has a slashing style, much like Callier and Sankey, but he might be the fastest of the three and that means he's got the ability to break long runs, something we haven't seen much of from Callier and Sankey in their limited reps over the past couple seasons.

Both Wilson's are intriguing because one, Willis, has shown himself to have the ability to make plays when given the opportunity, but with his walk-on status it's hard to imagine him getting the call ahead of a dynamic player like Cooper and Erich is only a freshman, although as a senior in high school this past year he showed the ability to move the chains and to make big plays.

Should he remain healthy throughout the entire season, Cooper will likely see time in the rotation with both Callier and Sankey and would likely rank third in carries mainly because the coaches would like to ease him in as much as possible.

Quoteable - "Deontae Cooper is a guy that has been back doing some running activities. I just don't want to push it with him to get him out there (during the spring) and make some unnecessary cuts. I'd rather just get him as healthy as possible for training camp, so you won't see much of him." -- Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian on what Cooper would do during the spring.

"It seems like every day there's two (long runs), from 50 or further, but in some of the things that go unnoticed, I think his game continues to grow. In short-yardage situations running the ball, his pass-protection keeps getting better and better. I think that's what is exciting for us as a staff, that his overall game continues to improve and that he's not just a one-dimensional guy. Sometimes, some of those things can go unnoticed. It's easy to see the 50-yard touchdown runs, but it's the overall package that he's bringing that make him a really, really exciting player for us." -- Sarkisian during Cooper's first spring at Washington.

The injuries - When Cooper arrived at Montlake during the spring, we thought we were looking at the next great Husky tailback. As noted above, he has everything you want in a number one running back -- blocking, vision, speed, hands, quickness, toughness -- but the two injuries have marred the beginning of his career with the Dawgs.

His first injury came during fall practices in August of 2010. As he was heading out of bounds, Cooper was engaged by a defender and after the play, the talented freshman remained on the turf grabbing his knee.

A couple of days later, we learned that Cooper had torn the ACL in his left knee.

While it is a serious injury, tearing your ACL isn't a career-killer like it used to be and more often than not, players return within a year and sometimes they are even stronger than before.

Well, Cooper returned to workouts with the team during the summer, but re-injured the same ACL in a non-contact drill and was lost again for the season.

His rehab has gone well although there are some that have their doubts that he can make it back to full-contact work.

Sarkisian and the staff have been cautiously optimistic about his return and they will do everything they can to make sure he isn't pressed into duty too quickly. Top Stories