Look Out for Number One

SEATTLE - Not since Reggie Williams has a more exciting player come to Washington than the kid currently wearing Williams' former jersey. Chris Polk is ready to play now and can run like the wind. He has soft hands, cuts on a dime, and is an aggressive blocker.

Throughout the spring I've been looking for those flashes of greatness, and until about a week ago that's all there was. You could see the speed, the balance, the acceleration and the elusiveness. But he just wasn't comfortable with the plays enough to just let it go.

Over the last week or so that has all changed. This guy is the real deal. He is - and I hate to put this on him so early - the most electrifying kid I have seen since Napoleon Kaufman. Like Nip, he has another gear that he can shift into whenever he wants and it is obvious he is to this incoming class what Jake Locker was to his.

Polk is physically built and shows some natural skills and instincts that makes you think he is capable of being a big-time playmaker as soon as he hits the field.

Of course he is yet to do anything in a game, but his very presence already makes Washington a better team right now! I kid you not, he is that special, and he looks just as good as either a receiver or a running back and has a toughness and edge to him that belies his age and grade in school. I think he will make more of an impact his first season than Napoleon did simply because his speed is so critical to this team, whereas Nip played on a much better and more mature team.

This youngster will never see anything but first string from now on out. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Well maybe it does, because this kid runs like a rocket. He has vision downfield and that is what separates the great ones. By that I mean he is already looking to the next level of the defense when he has the ball. He is anticipating his next move when he is still in traffic.

As most of you know, he de-committed from USC to Washington and that has to tell you something. I've known for years that you don't beat the LA schools on someone in their own backyard unless you have a unique recruiting edge. In this case it got down to people. Head Coach Tyrone Willingham and Receivers Coach Charlie Baggett were the lead recruiters, but quarterback Ronnie Fouch and cornerback Marquis Persley played significant roles as they were his teammates in high school.

That's how it works. It was a team effort and selling his mother Edrena was a key strategy. Whatever it was - the chance to play early, having friends on the team and a belief in the honesty of Coach Willingham - helped to collectively land one of the best players to come to Washington in decades.

It will be interesting to see how he will be used in the fall but I do remember a kid named Reggie Bush. I can see the Husky coaches trying to get the ball in his hands as many ways as possible and I don't care if he is a true freshman. Heck, this kid should still be in high school and hasn't even gone to the prom yet.

Speaking of Fouch, he has solidified his role as the back-up to Jake Locker. He is having an excellent spring himself and shows both a strong arm and quick feet. He has put on 25 pounds this year alone and shows promise to become a really good quarterback just in case something does happen to Jake, whose running has been considerably curtailed this spring. Fouch has run the ball a couple of times himself, turning lots of heads when he did. That is really encouraging because the quality of your back-up quarterback is reflective of the quality of your team.

This spring must be a real eye-opener for these kids out of Redlands, Calif. I don't even believe the weather myself and I've lived here for over 60 years - half of it as a football coach. I've never seen a spring this bad before, but I just keep remembering that in the NFL the games that count the most are played in December and January. And with the exception of the three Florida teams and the Arizona Cardinals, almost every other team plays in snow and rain come playoffs.

My point is, Chris Polk has the raw ability that tells you he could be playing football for a long time and he might as well get used to doing it in these conditions.

So, for all you die-hard Dawg fans who have been waiting so patiently over the past five years for something good to happen, hold onto to your season-tickets. Chris Polk is about to spice up your fall. I would be real surprised if there is another freshman in this league who will be more ready to make a big impact in this league. The fact that he has enrolled early out of high school and has participated in spring football almost assures that no matter what the conditions are.

Snowing in April, are you kidding me?

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