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The missing running game

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Robin Earl, Ron Rowland, Joe Steele, Jacque Robinson, Rick Fenney, Jay Barry, Beno Bryant, Naploeon Kauffman, Corey Dillon, and Rashan Shehee all come to mind as great running backs during the pre Neuhesiel years.

Washington's running attack started going down the drain as Neuheisel started developing a more pass happy attack. Starting with Rick Alexis who flashed a lot of potential his first year and never got better the running game suddenly stopped working at UW. Kenny James, and Louis Rankin gave us a lot of reps while they were here but neither was a super star type player.

You can attribute part of it to recruiting and evaluation. You can attribute another big part to lack of player development. Most importantly you can't run if there are no holes. The UW offensive line which we will discuss later has been a problem ever since Neu took over the program.

2001 Recruiting Class (Neuheisel)

Eriks was way overated. Singleton had a few moments but his attitude worked against him. Singleton could have been very good in a more stable environment. Cleman was a bruiser who lacked speed. McCourtie was an evaluation mistake who dropped out. This simply wasn't a very good class.

In retrospect Ericks should have been left at FB. Cleman should have been a bone crushing safety. McCourtie should never have been offered. Singleton just needed some coaching.

  • Ty Eriks (Blue Chip)
  • Chris Singleton
  • Braxton Cleman
  • Dan McCourtie

2002 Recruiting Class (Neuhesiel)

Neu came very close on Reggie Bush, but Jeeny James was the consolation prize and Neu declared him the best RB in California. Sampson had his moments but stretched the patience of three coaches. James never reached his potential at UW and playing for three head coaches and a multitude of position coaches could have been the culprit. Sampson had great straight ahead speed but he had a fumbling problem.

  • Kenny James (Blue Chip)
  • Shelton Sampson

2003 Recruiting Class (Neuheisel)

Louis became the first Husky RB in over a decade to go over the 1000 yard mark as a senior and now plays with the Raiders. Moss ended up at TB, FB, and DB before finishing at CWU.

  • Durrell Moss
  • Louis Rankin

2004 Recruiting Class (Gilbertson)

When you are desperate like Gilbertson was you tell Kirton his future is at RB. Kravitz has had a solid but injury filled career as a FB. In 2008 he is the UW short yardage specialist. With no real TB in the class this one comes up as a bust.

  • Johnnie Kirton
  • Luke Kravitz

2005 Recruiting Class (Willingham)

Willingham missed on Jonathan Stewart and Hasty was the consolation prize. In retrospect they should have played him right away. JR fell out of shape, became inelgible and was in the dig house his entire career. He is now at CWU. you can lable this class a bust.

  • JR Hasty

2006 Recruiting Class (Willingham)

Another bust in 2006. Meyers who is now at a jC didn't get in. Houston transferred from Texas where he played as a frosh. You have to be good to play early at Texas. You have to be a real creep to get kicked out of school there. houston proved that heory correct after hijacking a taxi cab after going for a little entertainment at Ricks in Lake City. Too bad about Houston because his addition would have meant a bowl bid if he had stayed on the team. I think Homer is one of the better blocking FB's in the country. (Funny side note: Some of the players thought that Neuheisel actually owned Ricks after visiting there while being recruitied during his tenure.)

  • Michael Houston
  • Leilyon Myers
  • Paul Homer

2007 Recruiting Class (Willingham)

After striking out his first two years on campus Ty put together one of the better RB classes on the coast in 2007. Johnson and Shaw played right away. Griffin and Yakaboski have shown potential in 2008. Yak tends to be a bit injury prone. Shaw is on a personal leave of absence and is expected to return this Winter. Johnson is coming back slowly after minor knee surgery, watch for him this week. Austin Sylvester who was recruited as a MLB has moved to FB which is a good place for him.

  • Brandon Johnson (Blue Chip)
  • Willie Griffin
  • Curtis Shaw (Blue chip)
  • Brandon Yakaboski

2008 Recruiting Class (Willingham)

Willingham astounded everyone by stealing the best HS running back on the West Coast in Polk. Unfortunately Polk is redshirting after shoulder surgery. David Freeman has become the #1 TB and is becomeing a fan favorite. Terrance Dailey is impressing on the scout team. Demetrius Bronson didn't make it in and will try again in January.

  • Chris Polk (Blue Chip)
  • Terrance Dailey
  • David Freeman
  • Demetrius Bronson

Position Outlook

Willingham floundered his first two years which seems to be the story of his regime. He has however recruited one of the better stables at RB we have seen in the last two decades. I really expect a lot out of the young kids in the future.

UW has struggled to run the ball in the first three games of 2008 against three of the better teams in the country. Look for that to change over the next four games.