Recruiting needs - running back

This past February, Washington Head Coach Rick Neuheisel declared Dos Palos, California running back Kenny James to be the " of all the tailbacks in California." High praise indeed for the 5-11, 200-pound James, and you can't forget Clover Park speed merchant Shelton Sampson either. With Braxton Cleman the only running back that will be graduating in 2002, there appears to be a need for at least one, and perhaps two ball-carriers in the 2003 recruiting class.

Granted, depth doesn't look like it's going to be much of an issue for 2003. Rich Alexis will be a senior with Chris Singleton, James and Sampson nipping hard on his heels for some playing time. One big-time running back would suit the Huskies' needs just fine here, and that player just might be San Diego (Calif.) Helix RB Reggie Bush. For those that remember Lorenzo Booker, imagine Bush being a bigger version of Booker. Stanford appears the be the biggest competition for Reggie's services right now, so if Rick Neuheisel can out-duel new Cardinal coach Buddy Teevens for Bush, it would be a coup of Kaufman-sized proportions.

San Francisco (Calif.) Riordan athlete Eric Wright is an intriguing prospect to watch out for in the months to come. The 5-11, 165-pound Wright is a true speedster, a consistent 4.4 40 performer and has the offers to back up his game. Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, USC and Nebraska are just a few of the rides Eric already has to choose from.

The other California running back that has risen up the recruiting charts is Valencia's Charles Burnley. At 6-0 and 175 pounds, Burnley ran for over 2000 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior. He's looking for an offer from USC, but right now likes the Dawgs a lot. He's looking to make an early decision.

Locally, Anthony Russo and Akeem Anthony from Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes are players Husky fans should be on the lookout for. At last month's Husky camp Russo blazed, running a 4.44 on the Husky Stadium field turf. At 5-11 and 180 pounds, Anthony is the epitome of versatility, playing RB, WR and DB for the Lancers. He already has offers from some smaller D1 schools like Montana and Idaho and he is ready to search for some bigger game. Will the Dawgs pick up his scent and give Anthony a ride? Time will tell.

Anthony, at 5-6, doesn't have the traditional Pac-10 RB physique but that doesn't mean he doesn't pack a lot of game into his smallish frame. He ran for 1600 yards and scored 26 times, despite missing a game last year for Lakes. He'll probably have to prove himself all over again this fall before D1 schools take some serious notice, and that's a shame. Like Kenny Simonton and Dominque Dorsey, some school is going to pick up a steal in Akeem.

Other running backs that could be on the Huskies' recruiting radar this year include Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco's Derrick Williams, Tolleson, AZ's Marcus Thomas, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei's Rafael Rice, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw's Daymeion Hughes and Orange, California's Durrell Moss. Locally, Tacoma (Wash.) Tacoma Baptist's Josh Bousman, Federal Way's Anthony Dotson and Mill Creek (Wash.) Jackson's CJ Marsh, son of former Husky Curt Marsh are the guys to keep track of this fall.

The fullback position may have been taken care of with the emergence of Notre Dame transfer Cory Jones, who will take the place of departed FB Dan McCourtie. But there's still some room to add another bruiser to the mix, and Todd Basler just might be the answer. The 6-2, 220-pound younger brother of current Washington State punter Kyle Basler, Todd is a punishing runner who can also kick it up a notch when in the clear. He has really good footwork and lean for a bigger runner, and he's a prolific ball-carrier. Last year for the Elma Eagles, Basler ran for 2,258 yards and scored a whopping 50 times last year.

The only thing that could hurt Basler's chances with the Huskies is something out of his control. As with Othello's McCourtie, the lack of real top-notch competition at the lower levels just might keep the Washington coaches from recruiting him harder. If he had those numbers with a 4A team, they would be tripping all over themselves but since he's romping free at the 2A level, those numbers just don't hold as much luster. Don't tell that to Stanford, however. They've already offered Todd a full scholarship.

Here's the earlier 'Need' articles:

Recruiting Needs - Quarterback Top Stories