With spring football just around the corner, here's a position-by-position look at the roster and what to expect over the next month

Today, the running backs are our focus as we continue our countdown to UW spring football...

Like the quarterback position, this group is led by a sophomore.

Like the quarterback position, there is little proven depth at tailback behind the starter.

However, the Huskies have recruited the position well over the past couple of years and the incoming freshman class boasts the top tailback and Gatorade Player of the Year in California.

When you ask running backs coach Keith Bhonapha what he's looking for in a tailback, he's pretty adamant about looking for players with multiple skills.

Can they be a threat in the passing game? Are they a fit for our zone-blocking scheme? Can they pick up the blitz?

If the answer is yes to all of these, he'll go hard after the prospect on the recruiting trail and the results, so far at least, have been positive.

When Myles Gaskin signed with the Dawgs in February of 2015 after a stellar career at Seattle's O'Dea High School, most thought he would get about 10 touches a game while backing up the likely starter -- Dwayne Washington.

Things began to turn shortly after the second game of the season and Gaskin became the first freshman in program history to run for 1,000 yards (1,302) while also setting a freshman record with 14 rushing touchdowns. The impressive thing is that he posted those numbers while starting just six games.

What will his totals be with an entire season as the starter? The collective heart beat of Husky nation just skipped a beat with that thought.

With Gaskin taking over, Dwayne Washington decided to declare for the NFL Draft while Deontae Cooper has moved on and enrolled at San Jose State to finish out his college career.

So, compared to 2015, this group will look a lot different but they do have an established starter already in the fold.


Position Group (by class)

Lavon Coleman (5-11, 222, RJr.)

Ralph Kinne (5-10, 214, RJr.)*

Jomon Dotson (5-10, 174, RSo.)

Gavin McDaniel (5-8, 188, RSo.)*

Myles Gaskin (5-9, 192, So.)

Logan Hurst (6-0, 190, RFr.)*

Sean McGrew (5-7, 173, Fr.) 

* = walk-on



No one projected a record-setting season for Gaskin when he arrived.

The Huskies would be inexperienced at quarterback and they would be young and unproven along the offensive line. 

Besides all that, Gaskin had at least one player (Washington) ahead of him on the depth chart and most thought he would battle Coleman and Cooper for carries.

Well, after his big freshman season, one that saw him named to several Freshman All-American squads, Gaskin is the unquestioned starter and he'll be billed as one of the top tailbacks in the conference if not the entire country during the preseason.

Coleman is a known-quantity at this point. He doesn't have a lot of shake and his speed is middle-of-the-road at best, but he is big, he has gotten more physical and he is a decent receiver out of the backfield. He also showed himself to be solid in pass-protection and that is a valuable asset in Washington's offense.

As far as Dotson is concerned, he will have to find a niche as a third-down back and if Washington can ever get their screen game going, he could wind up being a real threat in the passing game with his speed and open-field running skills.


Newest Face

We're still waiting to find out if McGrew will definitely be on campus this spring, but the latest word is that he is expected to enroll for the start of spring quarter. But this could all be moot if he doesn't, so be prepared. 

Either way, once he arrives, McGrew will instantly upgrade the speed in the backfield.

Gaskin has above-average speed and Dotson has great track speed, but he has yet to really show that trait on the field. 

McGrew, on the other hand, has elite track and football speed as well as the open-field moves to break off big gainers. 

He's going to be used in multiple ways -- backfield, slot, motion -- and he should see about 10 to 15 touches per game.



This is why the coaches make the money they do.

Obviously Gaskin needs to be getting 20 to 25 touches a game, but no one expects him to carry the ball 300 times during the season, so there will need to be some finessing on who gets touches and when.

McGrew might be too good to keep off of the field, so he'll need to get his touches and Coleman and Dotson both have earned the right to get a few calls as well.

Throw in a player like Chico McClatcher, who will see lots of reps in multiple situations as well, and you have a lot of candidates for a finite amount touches. 


What Does Spring Mean For This Group?

For the overall group, Bhonapha will have to figure out the hierarchy of tailbacks after Gaskin.

Who is the primary backup? Who gets touches in what situation? Who handles pass-protection better? Who is the better receiver out of the backfield? Who hits the correct hole and when they do, can they make guys miss at the next level?

Lots of questions need to be answered this spring and summer as we head into the season.

For Gaskin it's all about continuing to hone his skills as both a pass-protector and being a receiver out of the backfield. The more he can do, the harder it will be for the Huskies to keep him off the field.

Coleman will need to show the toughness a guy his size needs to run with between the tackles, while Dotson needs to play faster and show he can pick up the blitz better than he did last season.

For McGrew, like most incoming freshmen, the spring will be about learning the playbook and getting used to the speed of the college game.

Overall, the Huskies have some very nice pieces to work with in the backfield, but a lot of things still need to shake out before the start of the season and the spring will be when that process starts.


Spring Position Preview - Quarterbacks

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