Obviously, one of the biggest concerns of spring ball and then the fall camp will be finding a new starting running back. After three years, Washington will take the field without one of its most consistent performers in Chris Polk, who ended his career etched in the record books and could be considered the greatest running back in UW history.
It would be unfair to expect either junior Jesse Callier or sophomore Bishop Sankey – the top two candidates to take over the spot – to replicate Polk’s production. It’s highly unlikely that one of those players will even get the similar workload of 25 carries per game that Polk received. They will likley share the duties. Who will get more carries? That remains to be seen. But to my mildly trained football eye, it looks as though Sankey seems to be more equipped to succeed as a featured back. He’s just shown a little better ability to run inside between the tackles. Head coach Steve Sarkisian says Sankey’s vision and improved vision have made that work.
From my story in today’s paper …
“The plan going in was that he was going to get plenty of reps with the ones,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “And he’s just playing really well, to his credit. He’s running the ball well. He’s catching the ball out of the backfield extremely well. From a pass-protection standpoint, he’s doing an excellent job.”
Sankey has shown all the facets of being an every-down back. And while he will likely share the carries with Jesse Callier next season, it isn’t difficult to envision Sankey getting most of them. He’s shown an ability to run between the tackles and have success that Callier has not exhibited.
Sankey said he isn’t keeping track of the competition.
“I just try to go out there each day of practice and do what’s asked of me, control what I can control and just try to get better every day,” Sankey said.
Much of Sankey’s success relates to his great vision. He sees the openings and quickly gets through them. It’s something Sarkisian and his staff noticed about Sankey when they were recruiting him.
But Sankey needed patience to partner with his vision. He would see everything coming and just react too quickly.
“He’s a quick guy, and he wants to go make the run and make the play, and working on his patience and allowing the blocking to take place before making that cut is where we’ve seen the biggest strides in him running the ball,” Sarkisian said.