Top Huskies For 2013 — No. 1: Bishop Sankey

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Huskies' return one of the conference's top backs. He could be the team's best and most valuable player by the time the books close on the 2013 season.

In his first season as Washington's starting running back, Bishop Sankey ran for 16 touchdowns. Chris Polk's career high was 12. Greg Lewis' best number was 10. Napoleon Kaufman's top mark was 14. Rashaan Shehee? 15. The only time a Husky has scored more rushing touchdowns than Bishop Sankey did in 2012 was when Corey Dillon scored a then record 24 in 1996.

Sankey's 1439 yards were the third most all time for Washington, behind only Dillon's 1996 total (1,695) and narrowly edged out by Polk's 2011 (1,488).

Quietly, Bishop Sankey's 2012 season was one of the finest any Husky running back has ever recorded. The question is whether or not he can duplicate (or improve upon) it in 2013.

The blocking that Sankey received in 2012 was more than adequate and only improved as the season wore on, culminating in efforts of 189, 156, 139, 84 and 205 yard games to finish out the season. It was in these games that the Husky coaches found the offensive line combination with which they were most comfortable, and with the offensive line healthy heading into 2013, it seems as if they won't have to spend the first half of the season experimenting with combinations to find one that works. The Micah Hatchie, Dexter Charles, Mike Criste, Colin Tanigawa, Ben Riva group is the one they're going to battle with, and if they improve upon the 2012 line's performance, Sankey could have a record setting year.

With the no-huddle becoming a mainstay in UW's offense, there could very well be more carries for Sankey to get throughout every game. And if the Huskies run it as fast as they are in practice (which means no substituting most of the time), he could get a bigger a portion of the carries than he received in 2012.

Bishop will be the engine that powers what should be an improved Husky rushing attack. With the aforementioned expected improvement from the offensive line, as well as the return of Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper, the Dawgs should be able to grind out yards and pound some teams into submission. But no matter how much depth there is behind him, Sankey is going to be the straw that stirs the drink. He earned it with his play last season.

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