Spring Preview: Running Backs

In the third part of our on-going spring preview series, Dawgman.com takes a look at the running back position and what players to watch this spring as they fight for carries and playing time.

The Players: So. Chris Polk; Jr. Johri Fogerson; So. Demitrius Bronson; Jr. Brandon Yakaboski; Fr. Deontae Cooper; Fr. Jesse Callier; Sr. Austin Sylvester (FB); RS Fr. Kimo Makaula (FB)

Main Questions: Who will emerge as Polk's backup? Will Polk be healthy in time for fall camp? Which of the two freshman will see the most carries in 2010? Who will replace Paul Homer in the lineup?

Polk was a pleasant surprise in 2009, rushing for 1,113 yards and five touchdowns while running hard and generally being a nice compliment for what Locker has to offer.

Washington was severely limited as a running team when Polk was not in the game.

Fogerson, who was Polk's primary backup, still only had the fourth-most carries, although he was a solid receiver out of the backfield that Washington used on wheel-routes and on third down.

Bronson was outstanding in the spring as well as during camp in August, but once the games started, he appeared to lose confidence and struggled hanging onto the ball. That inconsistency limited his carries to only 19 in which he posted 89 yards total during his freshman season.

Yakaboski is a player who has the size you love, but his inability to stay healthy has some concerned he may need to hang it up if things don't work out this season.

With the additions of Cooper and Callier, two of the top rushers in the Golden State as well as the country, to the fold, Washington has added players who can be threats both inside and outside.

If there was one problem with what Polk and the other backs brought to the table last fall, it was a lack of game-breaking speed. Cooper isn't a blazer, but he's got a great burst and Callier is cat-quick and possesses great vision.

All five of Polk's backups will get a ton of carries in the spring since the sophomore-to-be will sit out while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Word is that Polk's progress is coming along nicely and there isn't a concern he could possibly miss playing time once the season starts. However, shoulder injuries can be tricky so it is imperative that Washington find at least two, if not three, backs who can carry the load if necessary.

At fullback, Washington must find a replacement for Homer, a player who started from pretty much the moment he arrived at Washington.

The leading candidates at this point are Sylvester, a player who has seen a lot of playing time as a blocker since he arrived in 2007 as well as the athletic Maukala who hasn't played yet, but showed plenty of ability during practices last fall.

Maukala provides the versatility of being a receiver out of the backfield, something that Homer was good at, but definitely didn't scare defenses with his abilities. Maukala didn't show much as a ball-carrier, but then again, Washington doesn't use their fullback a lot as a runner.

When Fogerson arrives this summer, he could ultimately end up earning the starting spot due to his athleticism and running abilities, but until then the battle will be between the two players on the roster currently – Sylvester and Maukala.

Other position previews...

Spring Preview: Quarterbacks
Spring Preview: Offensive Line

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