Heading into the spring Washington looked loaded at TB from a numbers perspective. Since then three RB's with starting experience have left the program due to grade problems. Terrance Dailey who led the team in rushing as a true frosh...gone! Brandon Johnson who was the most experienced back on the roster...gone! David Freeman who flashed a lot of potential before getting injured last season...gone!
In addition to that Brandon Yakaboski suffered another major knee injury and will not play in 2009. What that means is Washington will start fall drills with only four healthy tunning backs. RS Chris Polk, Fr. Demetrious Bronson, So Curtis Shaw, and So Willie Griffin.
Chris Polk started the first couple of games last season before going down with a shoulder injury that preserved a year of eligibilty. Polk represents the potential all star quality in the small stable. He has all the moves. quickness and speed needed to become a premier back. Another thing he has going for him is a year of experience and some much needed extra muscle to absorb the pounding you receive at this level.
Chris didn't show us much before getting injured last season. He looked a bit like a deer in the headlights and his running could have been described as tenative compared to the other young backs. He showed a lot of improvement this spring and was listed at #1 after the spring game.
Curtis Shaw started his career as a TB who was in the roatation from day one before moving to WR where he showed a lot of potential as an H-back. He took last year off for personal reasons which really ended up being a blessing in disguise. He returns with three years of eligibilty and a lot of extra muscle. Shaw is one of the fastest players on the team and he is going to get his share of carries this season.
Willie Griffin arrived on campus with Shaw and redshirted his first season. The sophomore has proved to be durable which has resulted in increased playing time in the backfield and on special teams. Willie doesn't posess the wow factor of Polk, and Shaw and he doesn't have the size of Bronson. What he does have is a knack for getting tough yards in the middle, being consistent in his assignments,and staying healthy.
Demetrious Bronson really opened some eyes up this spring. He didn't qualify until winter quarter which is a good thing because it gave him an extra year on campus. Many experts thought he was destined for LB or in the worst case being told to go somewhere else after the coaching change was made. The new coaches obviously liked what they saw and Bronson did not dissapoint as he flashed starting potential this spring.
What makes Demetrious special is his size and durability which will only improves as time goes on. He hits holes with power and he has enough speed to be dangerous around the edge. He was my offensive MVP this past spring. When he was recruited Washington was the only school to offer him despite the fact that he was the top back in the state. He was a kid who didn't get the respect he deserved and really looks like he is going to have an excellent career at Washington as a big back to compliment speedsters like Polk, and Shaw.
Brandon Yakaboski has shown us some good stuff when he is healthy. The problem is he never exactly has been healthy and has now suffered to consecutive major knee surgeries that could conceivably end his career as a Husky.
Washington went through running backs last season like toothpicks at a rib shack. You would like to think that four is enough but that clearly wasn't the case last season. Look for the coaches to take a look at Anthony Gobern as another option at RB this fall. Anthony sat out last fall to preserve eligibility after having shoulder surgery to correct a HS injury. He had a fine spring at CB but he is penciled in to RS. A move to RB and a break here and there may actually allow him to see the field earlier.
Another possibility is safety Johri Fogerson who started 2008 at RB and was moved to safety where he ended up earning a starting job. Fogerson is one of the most versatlie athetes on the team. If you are talking about your best 22 he is certainly in there. Moving him over just to provide depth isn't a great move for the team or the kid. However if injuries start happening he is the one guy who could make a seamless transition to the other side of the ball.
Recruiting wise Washington will bring in 2-3 running backs in the 2010 class. Bruiser Melvin Davis was an early commit and the coaches would like to flank him with a speedster or two to fill out the stable. The coaches can easily sell the opportunity for early playing time to attract a big time back.
As for 2009 the depth is a little thin but the quality is pretty good IMHO. I think all four of these kids are at a point in their development where good things will happen provided that the offensive line provides a little running room.